Monday, June 12, 2006

Movie Reviews: An Inconvenient Truth, Prime, and Desperation

Saw some movies over the weekend.

First and foremost, I saw An Inconvenient Truth last night. I think it's an important movie. What the director, Davis Guggenheim, did was film one of Al Gore's global warming Power Point presentations. And though a Power Presentation sounds boring, when the cameras are fixed on Gore doing the presentation, the film's riveting. It's like the real-life, non-suck version of The Day After Tomorrow. Gore lays out the facts in this movie, and they are compelling. Out of 892 peer-reviewed scientific articles about global warming, exactly 0 of their authors suggest global warming isn't real, and is not being caused by human activity. Zero. In the mainstream press, however, 52% of articles about global warming suggest there is doubt about the reality of global warming. Like cigarette makers before them, who put out crap science to confuse the public about whether cigarette smoke was harmful or not, the oil companies are now dissemenating crap science about global warming. Again, to confuse the public, which is why you see so much apparent controversy in the media, even though none should exist. A lot of head-shaking kind of stuff like that in there. Anyway, it's worth seeing and I whole-heartedly reccomend this movie (even with the awful Melissa Etheridge song at the end.)

[By the way, did you know the hole in the ozone layer is fixed? I just found that out. Gore says so in the movie when he's talking about how government and industry can work together to fix environmental problems. I was happy to hear about that. Global warming is similarly fixable.]

On DVD, I watched the Meryl Streep/Uma Thurman movie, Prime. It's the one you probably saw a trailer for but missed in the theaters about the therapist whose patient (Uma) is dating her son. It seemed kind of charming in the trailers, and a med student we talked to recently said it was really good (I don't know why I was taking film reccomendations from a med-student either, so don't ask.) Anyway, it was terrible. It seemed to me like some studio chief got tired of saying no to his spoiled, born with a silver spoon in his mouth hack writer/director son, and said, "Fine. Go make a movie, just leave me the hell alone." And so the hack writer/director son made that movie, and Prime is the result. The strangest thing about the movie, (besides the fact that Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman agreed to be in it) is that it feels like the director, Ben Younger, had a complete, uncontrollable man crush on his lead, Brian Greenberg. It shows in every frame of this movie. I think he might have written Prime as a vehicle for this guy, which is inexplicable because Greenberg's so bland as an actor, so charisma-less, he makes uber-vanilla Paul Walker seem like this generation's Christopher Walken. Every woman he meets falls in love with him, the gay men he meets are in love with him, and everyone he comes in contact with thinks he's the second coming of Dave Chapelle. Greenberg's character's supposed to be hilarious, but his sense of humor's so tepid, his witticisms so mild, that when the other characters laugh uproariously at his jokes, I feel like I'm watching science fiction. Like a Twilight Zone episode that supposed an alternate reality where not funny was funny. If, instead, everyone smiled wanly at him when he was "joking" around, I'd MAYBE buy it, but laughing like they're in serious danger of slapping their knee unironically? Stretches the bounds of credulity to the frickin' breaking point. This Ben Younger fellow is one tone-deaf film director, and I hope he never mars another frame of celluloid with his "vision". I know that sounds harsh, considering the fact that Prime is merely a bad movie, and not a colossally bad movie, but this kind of bad that borders on the merely mediocre just kind of gets to me. I'm sure I need to tell exactly none of you to stay away from this movie, but here it is anyway: stay away from this movie.

I also watched the last half of The Rock. Still holds up.

And finally, I watched Stephen King's Desperation. Wow. Next time I hear a promo on ABC for some new King adaptation of one of his novels and I hear the words, "Adapted by Stephen King", I am running for the hills. No joke. I know exactly where I'm going to hide and it's going to be for a long time. This was some bad bad stuff. Here's a quick example of how bad: at the end, when the Tom Skerrit character is falling down a hole lined with jagged, crystal-like rocks, you can actually see the styrofoam rocks bounce as he brushes past them. It's Ed Wood stuff. I think the only reason good films based on Stephen King novels exist, is because there are writers and directors (Frank Darabont, William Goldman sometimes) who love King's stuff as I do, but know how to fix his narrative weaknesses (uber-goofy dialogue, otherworldly group dynamics), and play up his strengths (fantastic premises, brilliant villains). When it's King adapting King, however, he just writes for the movies the same way he writes for his books, because that's what he knows. Except in his books, some of the ludicrous things that happen don't have to bear the scrutiny of a film camera. The reader's imagination makes allowances. The 35mm Panavision camera doesn't. In the movie the imagination conjures during the act of reading, every character's giving an Oscar-worthy performance. Not so in Desperation. Not even People's Choice good. And man was that movie God-crazy. I didn't remember the novel being so obsessed with God, but I read back through some of it today, and it really is. I guess it must work better in the book, because the character's mention God so many times in the movie, it seems like it should have been playing on PAX with Pat Robertson breaking in during the commercial breaks to talk about our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As with any bad horror movie, you have to cull out moments that not only don't suck, but are actually pretty good. It was hard in this one, but they were there. Specifically, the day-for-night aerial shots of the open-pit mine that the film centers around. Those were some very effective shots, giving the book's fans a glimpse of what, perhaps, could have been.

Anyway. Going to see The Omen and A Prarie Home Companion later this week. I'll let you know how those came out, too.


Speck said...

I only got to see the first bit of Desperation because I had to work that night, but I liked Ron Perlman...bad movie, but he was the best part.

I saw Cars last night. I really really liked it. I always thought Incredible was Pixar's weakest movie, and still do. And It would seem critics think its this movie. I disagree. I kinda want to see it again.

Anonymous said...

Crane says, "Baaaaaaaa!"

blankfist said...

Holy cow! Global-Goring!

Fear mongers are awesome!

JudgeHolden said...

That link sucks, dude. It's a totally right wing BS site. About 70% of its links go to Fox News, and we all know how serious those guys are. You should see An Inconvenient Truth, Heath. I'd be interested to hear what a skeptic would think of the facts Gore lays out.

Craig Moorhead said...

I feel like An Inconvenient Truth has already been negated, simply because it is made by lefties. Like Fahrenheit 911, the people who need to see it won't see it.

Desperation was, indeed, awful. I just barely got to the point where Perlman got Elliot and his wife to town... I have this rule about horror movies: if there are more than 27,000 'you're-not-in-Kansas-anymore' fisheye shots in the first ten minutes, I have to stop watching.

I don't know why King is intent on sabotaging his own stuff - adapting is not his strong suit and Mick Garris, the disaster of horror, is not his strong director. They prove it time and time again.

Sadly, what this also further proves is that horror can't be done on television. But then, hell, it can barely be done at all.

blankfist said...

Yes, is now a division of Fox News. So is and and and and and and the list goes on and on and on... In fact, I'm not so sure I found link number one on that page that went to Fox News. In fact, I didn't. is not right wing. It's not left wing either. But, I can see how leftist would position anyone outside of their own viewpoint as a republican. In fact, I'm looking at their homepage, and I see a link to NY Times' website. Can't get much more "left" than that paper. Stop using lies and fear to spread your agenda, Mr. Fibber. :)

Brian O'Malley said...

Bring da noize!

JudgeHolden said...

You Republican you. Just go see the movie, Heath. And as for the political leanings of, I was talking about the big square in the upper right hand corner that's called "By The Junkman". 30 out of the first 30 stories linked to in that section link to either Fox News or Human Events, which is billed as a "national conservative weekly". Thus, right wing site. Also, not too many non-partisan websites go out of their way to call Bill Clinton "Slick Willie". I'm pretty sure most of the non-partisan links you mention in your post are mentioned on when the "junkman" is looking for instances of soft-headed liberal bias towards scientists and all of their tedious, wrongheaded, science-y science.

Anonymous said...

if you go to the junkscience homepage -- there are a ton of link to FOX

JudgeHolden said...

Thank you anonymous. You're exactly right.

blankfist said...

Are you saying it may anger you to be force-fed a huge heaping of partisan BS? It should. But, the crying baby being forced to ingest the strained peas isn't trying to force his bottle into the parent's mouth at the same time, so he has a reason to cry.

Man, I hate people who push their agendas, don't you? Haha... I'm just stirring the pot.

JudgeHolden said...

That is hilarious. That dude's as dishonest as they come. Figures. On the other hand, I like people who push agendas when I agree with them. Like a cleaner environment. Who doesn't want that? Except maybe Steven J. Malloy.

As for Desperation, I have no idea why Garris thought a fish-eye lens would make the scene scarier. I think it just drew attention to the fact that I was watching a movie, and a TV movie at that. I thought Ron Perlman did okay, but I think he'd have been more convincing with a better director behind the camera. Some of his yelling in the car seemed like Garris could have done a few more takes. But Perlman could have been Gary Oldman-good and it wouldn't have saved Desperation from the totality of its badness.

I don't know how many TV movie disasters ABC will need to finance before they realize the trick to good Stephen King adaptations is to keep King as far away from the project as possible. Rose Red? The Shining remake? Kingdom Hospital? All seriously awful stuff. The only one since the mediocre The Stand that was any good was Storm of the Century. That one was a real surprise. Had a few missteps, but overall, everything you'd want in a suspenseful King miniseries.