Flight of Fancy

OK, Singapore Airlines is just pure class.

I’m used to the movie listings taking up the last few pages of the in-flight magazine (who decided that poorly written articles about exotic locales that you’re not going to and that only make you feel bad about your own destination makes for good reading?), but this time around the entertainment listings WAS the entire magazine.

And holy crap was their selection up to date – they don’t *quite yet* have the Hobbit, but it’s coming soon.  Between my quintuple feature I squeezed in all of half an hour of sleep on the 12 hour flight:

Looper

Rian Johnston’s 2005 debut Brick may not be my absolute favorite movie of all time, but almost certainly of those that came out since I graduated college and stopped watching movies regularly.  It’s an homage to the classic film noir genre where the hard-boiled gumshoe wades through a seedy underworld of drugs, femme fatales, thuggish goons, crooked authorities and diabolical power brokers.

The twist?  It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is set in a high school.  And it TOTALLY works.

Looper is Johnston’s third film, again with Gordon-Levitt, this time the story revolving around time travel with Bruce Willis playing his older self.  The character arc isn’t as compelling as in Brick, and the time travel isn’t as interesting as in Primer (one of my brother-in-law Mike’s favorite movies).  Heck, the time travel isn’t even as interesting as 12 Monkeys, which also had Bruce Willis.

There’s nothing wrong with the movie, it’s just kinda … forgettable.  Though that might have something to do with immediately following it up with 4 more movies…

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s epic drama about a pivotal period in history that serves to remind us: America, fuck yeah.

I liked it better the first time around when it was called Band of Brothers.

To be fair, I started watching BoB the week of September 11, so maybe I was a bit more receptive to the message.  And there’s no doubt that Daniel Day-Lewis is an infinitely more charismatic lead than either Donnie from NKOTB or the only cast member on Friends who was neither good looking nor funny.  Still, it’s hard to reconcile the cognitive dissonance between Honest Abe and the rabbit grieving, eye gouging, milkshake stealing psychopaths of his previous roles.

Actually I kept doing that throughout the movie: “Hey, look, it’s Tommy Lee Jones with Gale from Breaking Bad!”  I wonder if the old Hollywood studio system with actors under contract suffered from that kinda cognitive superimposition.

Aside from that, great movie, but you already knew that.  While political drama is nothing new, but I like the idea of the legislative process itself being the subject.  Makes you wonder if they can do a similar treatment for, say, Obamacare a generation from now.

7 Psychopaths

I think 6 is the highest number of real characters most narratives can pull off.  I suppose that’s why movies feel the need to trumpet it in the title whenever the count rises to 7 or higher, but most of the time they just cheat by having 1 or 2 leads dominate a bunch of extras:

  • 7 Samurai a.k.a. the sage, Mifune, and some cannon fodder
  • Ocean’s 11 a.k.a. George Clooney and Brad Pitt looking pretty for the camera
  • Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs a.k.a. Snow White and Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey and Doc
  • 101 Dalmatians a.k.a. aww, 100 cute doggies and awwwwwwwwwwwww a PUPPY!!!

The closest I’ve seen to giving all members of a numbered class equal representation is Se7en (also with Brad Pitt), except that they’re murders instead of characters, and you kinda have to fudge the count towards the end (which is still brilliant, just a bit off count).

7 Psychopaths comes pretty damn close to making something like that work too.  You have 5 that are really well developed, and 2 sorta cop-outs.  Still, Christopher Walken counts for at least 2 1/2 so all in all I’d say fair exchange.  I’m torn whether I like it better than In Brugges, also by the same director and with Colin Farrell, but either way it’s pretty entertaining.

Hitchcock

The house I grew up in was about 5 min away from Universal Studios.  The most memorable parts of the tour by far were Jaws and the packs of Korean and Japanese tourists who came in buses with matching bright yellow hats and jackets bearing the logo of their tour company, whisked around by a guide with a megaphone in one hand and waving a matching yellow pennant in the other.

I do, however, vaguely recall one story told when passing by the Bates Motel that Alfred Hitchcock, dissatisfied with the intensity of Jennifer Leigh’s performance in the shower scene, switched from hot to freezing cold water to get a more realistic scream.

The quality of Anthony Hopkins and Hellen Mirren’s performance almost makes up for excluding this anecdote from the movie.

Dredd

This movie sated my inner 10 year old’s craving for awesomeness.  My newly replenished reserves should last me until Pacific Rim comes out.

-Dave

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