Friday, March 26, 2010
It turns out that while AIRPLANE! does mock many of the AIRPORT films’ iconic moments, much of its comedy is refreshingly original. With its 2 jokes / minute pace, it needs more material than even four AIRPORT movies can provide. AIRPLANE! mocks religions, cultural imperialism, disco, great films, and the aviation industry itself. It’s great fun, and it kept (the older members of) my family laughing from beginning to end.
Ineterestingly, AIRPLANE garnered a PG rating even though it boasts a fair helping of sexual innuendo, drug jokes, nudity, and profanity. Today, I think this film would merit a solid R. How did we allow our society to become more restrictive in the last 29 years?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
About ten minutes into THE GIRL FROM MONACO, I knew everything that would happen in this movie.
I was completely wrong. I love that.
THE GIRL FROM MONACO tells the story of Bertrand Beauvois (veteran character actor Fabrice Luchini), a famed defense attorney who has come from Paris to Monaco for a major trial. His client hires him a bodyguard (Roschdy Zem) who knows everything about the city and all the people in it, and mostly wants to keep them away from Beauvois. But Beauvois notices Audrey (Louise Bourgoin), a local weathergirl, and she notices him. Christophe the Bodyguard (remember, he knows everyone) is not amused.
And why would an unbelievably beautiful young woman go for the rumpled, aging Beauvois? And in the middle of a trial, no less? Why is she always carrying that video camera, anyway? Most vexingly (to Christophe, at least), why would a sensible man like Beauvois allow himself to get so thoroughly, embarrassingly infatuated that he’d forget his position, his duty, himself with just one look into Audrey’s eyes?
Well, whatever you think the answers to those questions are, you may be right. Or not. I got them wrong.
But the fact that this film is smarter than me is only part of its charm. The rest lies in the relationships between and among the three main characters, relationships that develop in unexpected and delightful ways. There’s also beautiful Monaco, a protagonist both sophisticated and simple, and a tone that somehow manages to keep things in the realm of light comedy while dealing with situations that develop into anything but.
THE GIRL FROM MONACO took me places I didn’t expect to go and showed me a good time getting there. I’d see her again.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Last night, I sat down with my kid and saw a great science fiction movie. It features an interloper from another world, one who masquerades as a native. The alien is a spy, representative of a race that has come to the planet under the guise of peace, but whose hidden agenda is the plundering of the planet’s resources. The alien, however, falls in love with native ways, joins forces with the less-advanced indigenous species, and plays a crucial role in fighting off the invaders. The alien’s help, along with the might of the creatures of the exploited planet, drives off the invaders and saves the day.
The alien is Miss Namikawa of the Xians. The native creatures who, in a rush of Gaian solidarity, repel the invaders are Godzilla and Rodan. The film is INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTER, a first-rate Godzilla film of the Showa era, directed by Ishiro Honda, written by Shinichi Sekizawa, and featuring special effects by the great Eiji Tsuburaya.
This is a fun, fun, motion picture. It features an American actor named Nick Adams who is there solely to boost international box office. It has nonthreatening, yet villainous, antagonists in the evil Xians, who covet Earth for its water. Its creature designs are first-rate, its story rocks along pleasantly, and its alien spy (played by Kumi Mizuno) is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Godzilla even does a happy dance after one mighty victory, an addition the director protested but made the final cut because Eiji Tuburaya insisted that it would “make the children happy.”
I’m telling you, the only thing that could have improved this movie would have been an introduction by Tom Hatten. INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTER is good, clean Godzilla fun.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I’m not saying that everything in (500) DAYS OF SUMMER is sweetness and light. This is the story of a failed relationship, after all. But the thing about this film is how it embraces life, its ups and downs. When star Jason Gordon Levitt realizes he’s in love and the film shifts into fantasy, what happens next strikes me as a daring, creative, and ultimately insightful journey into the high that results from that first connection with somebody special. When things go sour and he finds himself inhabiting the films of Ingmar Bergman, the film again takes a daring, creative, and insightful journey into the depths of heartbreak.
I love a movie with guts, and I love a movie with joy in its heart. Put the two together, and you have something special. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER is just such a movie. I can’t wait to see it again with my wife.