God’s Not Dead (2013) – I don’t know, I’m drunk, but it seems that maybe if Superman and Hurcules hugged it out, maybe God and Xena would smile upon this college. Or something. Drunk.
And so ends Lent 2015. For those who have forgotten to count, this was my 400th Lenten movie, ten years of twisting sacred traditions for my own amusement.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – There is oh so much to be said about imperialism and self-determination and Alec Guiness in rather shoddy brownface. I am not sure I’m qualified to give those subjects the intelligent, serious discussion they are due.
I will content myself instead with the observation that Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif are very pretty men, and if a cutting room floor somewhere has footage of them maybe just kissing a little, I’d like to find that room.
Weekend (2011) – I do not miss dating. Sure, it’s got its fun times, but it is, generally speaking, completely bonkers. I have dated versions of both of these characters: the neurotic closet case and the nearly unhinged artistic type, and the only thing I miss about those days is that I was in better shape. The fact that these two find something in each other makes me wonder if those guys I once knew eventually got together and made an unreasonably cute couple.
Weekend is a very sweet story, but feels a lot more honest and realistic than most I’ve ever seen. It’s hard for me to tell whether it’s because the story is so well told or because, unlike most love stories, it talks directly to the gay experience. There’s a scene where they talk about the coming out experience as a gay rite of passage, and that makes a lot of sense to me; so many dates from my dating years involved the conversation about how each of us came out to our families.
Cavalcade (1933) – It’s cute to see 1933 tell us what a handful this twentieth century has been. You’re cute, 1933, bless your heart. Surely things couldn’t get worse than the first third of the century.
Six-String Samurai (1998) – It’s good, but this would probably mean a lot to me if I cared more about the history of American pop music or classic Chinese martial arts films, or if I didn’t hate every piece of the kid character. A question you should always ask when writing a child character–especially if that child is going to spend most of the story in dire peril–is whether your audience will wish the child alive or dead. In short, if the child is not intended as a villain of some kind, I should not wish for a poisonous desert lizard to fly up into the child’s mouth and smother/poison him. I should not have thought up several amusing ways for that child to die, most of which involve his noise-hole being clogged.
Watership Down (1978) – More of this, please. More serious, grown-up animation not geared specifically to children, nor even generously toward “families”. Some stories are not for small children, and there’s no reason children should have any kind of dibs on animation. A movie should not have to explain that although it’s animated, that doesn’t mean it’s for children. And there are some things that can only be done with animation. I can’t think of another way to present this story as a film that wouldn’t be monumentally stupid, so kids and families are just going to have to suck it up and see something else.
The FP (2011) – It was bound to happen at some point this year, as with all years, that I would see a movie that makes me angry for having seen it. My life is diminished by these grown people speaking someone’s idea of street slang as if they learned it phonetically. I am far too sober for this.
It is tempting to assume that this is meant as comedy, and all this idiocy is deliberate. And it may be, we’ll never know for sure, but comedic intent doesn’t excuse anything. In many ways, it’s worse if this was supposed to be funny. Whatever they’re going for, they missed their target.
Incubus (1966) – The most beautifully filmed, most competently acted instructional language film ever made, made to demonstrate a language that can’t even be called dead because it was never alive.
To have a blinded character wander around shouting “Marco” is a test of the audience’s self restraint.
The Book of Life (2014) – That could have been a very good movie, except for some major problems. Putting aside the feminist problems for a moment (and that’s not easy, considering the main plotline centers around two men fighting over a woman, and surprise, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test), it just fails on several basic technical and structural grounds.
The DVD was loaned to me with the warning that the music is terrible; it was terrible. One unnecessary cover after another, shoehorned into the story sideways. I was also warned that the framing device was obnoxious; it was. A framing device can be used effectively to bridge the real world to the fantastical story world. I do not need to be pulled from the story every five minutes to be explicitly told what I should be feeling. That makes me feel angry.
The movie is rife with characters and throwaway jokes we’ve seen a thousand times in Disney movies for twenty years or more. Just watch everything between The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, and you’re all set.
The Innocents (1961) – With a governess, a housekeeper with dire-but-cryptic warnings, and creepy children, this is the quintessential gothic horror movie, and is really among the best I’ve ever seen.