Friday, October 02, 2009
I’m not gonna tell you that CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE (CRANK 2, henceforth) is a good movie. I’m not gonna tell you that I liked it anyway. But I am going to tell you that I respect it.
CRANK 2 is loud, jumpy, vulgar, violent, sexist, racist, crude, and offensive in nearly every imaginable way. I respect its absolute dedication to loudness, jumpiness, vulgarity, violence, sexism, racism, crudeness, and offensiveness. CRANK 2 does nothing by half measures: it goes so far over the top that it forgets where the top is and shoots for the moon.
As faithful fans may recall, CRANK ends with its hero (Chev Chelios: what a great movie name!) falling 1000 feet out of a helicopter. And blinking. CRANK 2 goes from there to a world of kaiju heroes battling in a world of miniatures, severed heads kept alive in aquariums (with voice synthesizers that say, “$^%& you, Chev Chelios!”), and ridiculous amounts of nudity and violence that I’d term gratuitous if nudity and violence weren’t the whole point of the movie.
If this sounds like your thing, have at it. I saw it for two reasons. First, it was free and I had nothing else to do. Second, I grudgingly respected the first installment for its dedication to being just plain wrong. So I’ll be there for CRANK 3. I know it’ll be bad. I know it’ll be offensive. But some train wrecks I just can’t help watching.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
I’ve been expanding my horizons.
I’ve noticed that I see an inordinate number of guy movies. Advertise something in which some stuff blows up real good, or somebody kicks somebody else in the face, or someone intones, “I’m getting too old for this $#!^,” and it’s likely to find a place in my rental queue. Some of them are quite good. But it’s not enough to only seek out that which seeks us out. Thus, I’ve queued up a number of films that skew female. And I’ve learned that most chick movies go on my nerves.
So many chick movies, particularly romantic comedies, aren’t about women at all. They’re about stunted children, little girls in women’s bodies who still believe in ridiculous, destructive Brontean romanticism. How does that not get old?
Imagine, then, the thrill, the delight of seeing ALL ABOUT EVE for the first time. Here’s a movie about women, actual women, the kind of women you can sink your teeth into, the kind of women who can sink their teeth into you. Bette Davis, in the performance of a lifetime, is Margo Channing, a queen of Broadway and monarch in life. She’s smart, she’s proud, she’s tough, and she knows the ropes. She’s also too old to play the romantic lead much longer: her cheeks are starting to sag and all those cigarettes are catching up with her. Anne Baxter is Eve Harrington, who begins the story as what we’d refer to today as a stalker. She’s pretty and young and bright. She worms her way into Margo’s life, studies her, becomes her. Fasten your seatbelts. We’re in for a bumpy ride.
Pawns and victims include critic Addison De Witt, played by George Sanders in an Oscar-winning performance; Celeste Holm; Hugh Marlowe; Thelma Ritter; and even a very young (but already sparkling) Marilyn Monroe. These people feel like real people, with real problems and agendas of their own. Seeing them clash and jostle in the wake of powerhouses Davis and Baxter adds depth and texture to the story, making every minute of this film’s 2:18 length feel vital and real.
Movies about women don’t have to be chick movies. ALL ABOUT EVE proves that. Bring on the next.