Sunday, August 27, 2006

World Trade Center

Well, I basically have one word for this:


I saw this last night and don't remember much of what I wanted to say, other than that I really didn't like it. At times I HATED it and thought it irredeemable, but then it would eventually redeem itself at least to the extent that I didn't hate it. But I totally didn't like it either. I think it's my least favorite thing I've seen all year (X-Men: The Last Stand was at least enjoyable on a visceral level, despite its hackishness). Some people obviously like it - my aunt for example was bawling much of the time, cause she gets very emotional about anything related to 9/11 - but I most certainly did not.

I don't know why I thought this would be good, and award-worthy. But it was not. Unless you like mushy, derivative, manipulative, overly sentimental historical dramatizations that trade on an audience's knowledge and emotional connection to a specific event (unfortunately, oscar voters DO seem to like films like this). And not only was it sentimental and manipulative in general, some parts of it were just poorly done. The makeup, etc. was just not convincing, making it seem like a horror spoof or something. And that is in VERY poor taste relative to 9/11. Also, the narrative was rather unfocused, meandering around various 9/11-oriented situations and randomly inserting some stock footage before focusing more on the two central families. I suppose Stone may have been approximating the same confusion people felt after the attacks, but for the film, that vibe just didn't work.

The lead actors did well with what they had (I think Maggie G was best in show), but they had such flat, stock characters that there was not much they could do to impress. And in general, the bit parts were played shockingly badly. I do, however, remember one scene wherein (guess who?) VIOLA DAVIS knocked another cameo perf out of the park, playing a random mourning relative in a scene with Maria Bello. Maybe Viola was truly the best in show. I love her. It's rather telling that her character seemed just as fleshed out to me as the four main characters, if not moreso, in only one brief scene.

Overall, however, I was not moved, despite Viola Davis' best efforts. There were several moving moments, particularly at the rare times when the film would allow itself some humor, but overall I found the film pretentious, manipulative, and utterly predictable (except in how unconvincing some of the scenes were). It almost seems as though Oliver Stone said "I'm going to make a film that firemen would like" and then ended up totally pandering and condescending to the firemen and other humble normal folks who he assumes would want to see his movie. Well, I for one did not appreciate it. To see an example of people managing to pay tribute to 9/11 victims and actually make a good film in the process, see United 93. But World Trade Center was totally unnecessary... and kind of exploitative.

I do think it still has good chances for awards, though. There is always THAT film in every best picture lineup, the overly earnest tearjerker that tries very hard and very predictably to make you cry and take it seriously, and panders shamelessly to the awards-voter contingent, whether by adapting a famous novel, dramatizing a historical event, taking on a touchy issue, or some such. And then everybody somehow gets it in their head that it's a great film. Also, it often stars Tom Hanks.

You know the type, and the examples. Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Titanic (though it is kind of in its own league), Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, etc. Road to Perdition didn't make it, thankfully. But Seabiscuit and Mystic River both did. So did Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby and of course, Crash. So maybe this one will, too.

Some of those films were more successful than others. Titanic for example knew exactly what it was doing, and hit it right out of the park. This one, not so much. Too bad.

Verdict: "Boycott it; don't encourage them."

Monday, August 21, 2006

this Bush press conference = painful

I'm watching a live Bush press conference now, and it is paaaaaaiiiinful. Ouch. I really don't think he's even smart enough to understand all the corruption and evil in his own administration. Or maybe he's just now picking up on it and can't handle it. Complete and utter denial here. OMG, he's having a breakdown. This is bad. Maybe his head will explode? That'd be cool.

OK. So, the system seems to be...
Get a little nervous: talk fast.
Get really nervous: talk louder and more forcefully.
Get really REALLY nervous: flinch and sputter.
Then combine all tactics and repeat.

"We're not leavin' so long as I'm the president!" Jesus. Maybe if he'd actually gone to Vietnam, he would've learned its lessons? Hey, don't yell at the journalists, George. It's not their fault you're totally wrong. God, now he's spinning out of control again. Jesus. Now they're talking to him like he's a child. This is getting ugly. I don't think I can watch anymore. I'm out.

My Golden Globe fantasy/premonition...

Joaquin Phoenix takes the stage to present the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy:

"And the nominees are...
Penelope Cruz for Volver, (applause)
Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls, (LOTS of applause)
Scarlett Johannson for Scoop, (mild applause, yawns)
Beyoncé Knowles for Dreamgirls, (mild applause)
and Meryl Streep, for The Devil Wears Prada."
(LOTS and LOTS of applause)

JP opens the envelope.

JP: "And the winner is... whoop... it's a tie. (gasps) The winners are... Jennifer Hudson (explosion of cheers and applause) ...and Meryl Streep (even bigger explosion of cheers and applause).

JHud and MS take the stage. They hug.

JHud: "OMG! This is my first movie and I'm sharing an award with Meryl Streep, y'all! OMG!" (uproarious laughs from the audience)

MS: "Well, this is very special for me, too, you know, I've never won one of these before... not in THIS category..." (more laughs)

JHud: "Neither have I! OMG!!!" (laughs)

MS: "Yeah, I've sung, I've danced, I've been funny... and they just, you know, they give it to Julia Roberts or somebody... (wicked laughs) You know, Jen, I was rooting for you in American Idol."

JHud: "OMG! Thank you!" (more laughs)

MS: "Really, your 'Circle of Life' was fabulous!" (laughs)

JHud: "Thank you! OMG!!! (JHud breaks down and cries; audience laughs)

MS: "Oh, Jenny... it's OK..." (audience is still laughing)

JHud: "OMG..." (sobs)

MS: "You wanna speak?"

JHud: "No, no, no, you go... I gotta collect myself..." (laughs)

MS: "OK... well... I would like to thank everyone involved in my film. Annie, Emily, Stanley, the whole cast... the lovely crew who worked so hard... my lovely makeup people who made me look so young and sexy (laughs from audience)... except for that one scene (more laughs)... but other than that, I looked fabulous. And even without makeup, I looked fabulous (more laughs). And I have to thank my wonderful husband Don, my rock! Oh, thank god I'm not REALLY like Miranda Priestly... (laughs) ...and of course, my beautiful daughters, from whom I learned everything I know about fashion (laughs), and for whom I curse that horrible industry every day (more laughs). I love you. You give me my strength and my humanity. (awwwwws from audience; daughters look on adoringly)

And I'd like to thank... Jennifer Hudson... for giving me the honor of sharing my first comedy/musical golden globe with her." (awwwwwws)

JHud: "OMG!" (MS leaves the stage) "That was Meryl STREEP, y'all! (laughs) Okay. I need to thank the WHOLE cast of Dreamgirls... Beyoncé, my girl, I love you, I'm sharin' this award wit' you, girl. (B looks on, blankly) Jamie Foxx, my boy, you are SO talented in everything you do, I love you (J looks on, arrogantly). Anika Noni Rose, you're beautiful, you're so great, I'm sharin' this award wit' you too (ANR looks on, gracefully). Eddie Murphy. I still can't believe I made a movie with EDDIE. MURPHY. (EM looks on, grinning) And all the crew... the sound people, the makeup people, the prop people... the editors... that guy who brought me coffee every mornin'... I owe a lotta this thing to you, man (camera tries to find this guy... who is he?). And you know I REALLY gotta thank... Bill Condon. (camera finds BC, who is looking on smugly) I love you, Bill Condon. You did SUCH a GREAT JOB with this movie. Really. You know... well, you're pretty fly for a white guy, Bill, that's all I gotta say. (cut to BC, embarassed)

And last but definitely not least... Jennifer Holliday. GIRL. Thank you so much for originatin' this role... and settin' the bar SO HIGH, girl, you're amazin'. You're a legend. (camera tries to find JHoll... where is she? she here?) And all the other sistahs, yo, Aretha, Whitney, Diana Ross, Tina Turner... you paved the way, sistahs, you PAVED the WAY. I love you. I love you. Man, I love everybody right now, I just shared the stage with Meryl Streep, y'all. Meryl STREEP. (laughs) I love you. Thank you so much."

(JHud leaves the stage)

...and that's it. Sigh. Why can't this happen in real life?

Some early bets on the globe noms...

It's kinda dumb to be doing this so early, and kinda random to be doing it right now, but I predict that the globe best picture nominees will be:


Babel (4 or 5 noms)

Flags of our Fathers (3 or 4 noms)

The Good Shepherd (4 or 5 noms)

United 93 (2 noms)

World Trade Center (6-8 noms)

The drama category's tricky so early in the year, with only two of these films having seen release, but globe noms are based so much on prerelease hype anyway that I figured I should just go with what looks good from a distance. I don't expect all (or even most) of these to carry over into oscar noms, but do they ever? No. They don't.

I feel pretty confident in predicting United 93 here, cause you don't need a high nomination tally to get a best pic nom at the globes the way you do at the oscars. I could see it getting best pic and director slots pretty easily. World Trade Center still needs to prove its worth in box office terms (I feel like it may have been better to just release it at the last minute and ride the hype with this one), but I think it'll stick it out and place (it has the potential for lots of nods, and could still hit very big with awards groups). I think sentiment will be with the two 9/11 films, since they both turned out to be pretty good (or at least it seems so; I've still gotta see the Stone film), and it's tough to pull off dramatizing such a recent and sensitive event without just f***ing it up completely.

Flags of our Fathers is Eastwood, and the HFPA have nominated everything else of his recently, so why not this one? It looks like the baitest one yet. All Eastwood's films have ever needed to be is "pretty good" in order to place, anyway. Why do people love him so much? I'm hoping the academy at least will think twice this time before nominating Eastwood and Haggis yet AGAIN, but the HFPA has no such scruples. They'll nominate their favorites every single year if they feel like it. Need proof? See: Nicole Kidman and ScarJo.

The Good Shepherd looks to me like the safest of this year's big prestige offerings. It's period, it's star-studded, it's DeNiro. That's all I have to say, really.

And Babel, while a longshot for best picture at the oscars, probably has what it takes to place here. It's apparently great, and has a couple of globe favorites (Pitt and Blanchett) and an up-and-comer poised for his first nod (Bernal). If it gets a big nomination tally here, that gives it a leg up in at least getting that lone director nod that it seems just right for.

Obviously a case can be made for Little Children, The Good German and others, but they have enough working against them to give me pause. I think these five seem like the most likely. So now, on to...


The Devil Wears Prada (2 noms)

Dreamgirls (8-10 noms)

Little Miss Sunshine (1 or 2 noms)

A Prairie Home Companion (1 nom)

Stranger Than Fiction (3 or 4 noms)

I feel MUCH more confident in these five.

The comedy categories are always easier, for a number of reasons. There are always fewer standout comedies to choose from, and more that emerge early as contenders; since films need not be oscarbait in order to be nominated in this category, many nominees come from earlier in the year. I think we've seen three of the nominees already. And while it may be wishful thinking, this lineup has balance and diversity: you've got your big studio musical, your smaller "sort of musical/sort of comedy" thing, your indie critical darling, your mainstream sleeper hit, and your... well... your oscarbait dramedy that's strategically placed in this category.

Speaking of Stranger Than Fiction, its advance buzz has been good, and though I doubt that it'll play well at the oscars (it seems like a bit of a cheap ripoff of The Truman Show - right down to the "comedian goes dramatic" hook - and even Truman wasn't nominated for the oscar), I think it'll find a place here. It should also eclipse Talladega Nights, which might've had a better shot in this category if a more awards-friendly Will Ferrell vehicle weren't arriving later this year.

A Prairie Home Companion, I think, will slip in with no other nominations. It has solid reviews and a big ensemble of big names that won't be nominated individually. Best Comedy/Musical is a good place to reward films that are good but have no rewardable standout elements (this may have an original song they could honor, though I don't know what it is, and they might honor Streep for this, but I doubt it). And if you have both music AND comedy (and even drama!), as Prairie does, then your chances in this category are that much better.

And speaking of good films with few viable nomination possibilities... enter Little Miss Sunshine (did you like that pun? huh? yeah, you did.) Just about everyone likes this film (including me), and many love it (including me), yet I don't think it has much of a shot at the oscars... in anything. Original screenplay is a definite possibility, but I'm not holding my breath. I just feel like it'll fall through the cracks for some reason. But anyway, one place I think it'll definitely show up is here, the perfect place to honor this little gem. If it lands on as many top ten lists as I think it will, and lands a few shiny critics' prizes, then it should have this slot all locked up. Unfortunately, this will probably be its only globe nomination, unless Carrell or the screenplay can get some action... and of course it won't win. But maybe I'm underestimating it; if the critics pull a Sideways and really rally behind this movie, it might get more play than I'm expecting. And it has been compared to Sideways, so... it could happen... maybe...

Anyway, the next practically-sure-thing is another of the summer's sweetest surprises, Meryl Streep's The Devil Wears Prada (I word this as if she actually owns the film, but hey, come on, she does). This may not seem like best picture material to some (and unfortunately it didn't hold up quite as well as I'd have liked on a second viewing), but I'm confident that it'll place here. Why? Well, there's always something in this category that's solidly in the realm of the mainstream. And it's usually a summer sleeper hit. For reference, take a look back at five years ago, when both Bridget Jones' Diary and Legally Blonde were in this same situation (summer chick flicks made surprise hits by their sassy central performances). The major difference here? Prada made even more money, and its Devil is even more acclaimed. With $120 million and one of Streep's greatests perfs in its corner, this film will make the cut. Easily.

And I don't think I even need to talk about Dreamgirls, which has been the prohibitive favorite for this award since before it was even finished shooting. But I will anyway. First of all, yes, I did type "8-10 noms" - that was not a typo. 8-10. How, you ask? Just like this. Every category is stacked:

Best Pic (Comedy/Musical)
Best Actor (C/M) - Jamie Foxx
Best Actress (C/M) - Beyoncé Knowles
Best Actress (C/M) - Jennifer Hudson
Best Supporting Actor - Eddie Murphy
Best Supporting Actress - Anika Noni Rose
Best Director - Bill Condon
Best Screenplay - Bill Condon
Best Song (times 2 or 3 or 4)

...and that's not even counting Best Score, cause I don't think it'll qualify... but who the hell knows.

To be fair, Anika and the screenplay are iffy. And though the film apparently has four original songs, probably only two or so will be nommed.

But I really don't see it getting any fewer than 8. My money's on 9. It could conceivably get 12. In any case, the nomination tally will be gargantuan. I am calling it now... 9 noms. And the Best Pic win in a walk. This thing has been groomed as an oscar powerhouse from day one, but even more important than that is that it looks like it'll actually be really good. It'll certainly have at least the HFPA wrapped around it's little finger.

ANYWAY. I think those are the five nominees. Ordinarily, there might be a Best Animated Feature in the mix, but none this year have sufficiently wowed both the populace and the critics. I guess they could nominate Cars based on its huge box office, or surprise us and go crazy with Monster House, but there really hasn't been a standout zeitgest animated hit in the manner of a Shrek or The Incredibles (not that Shrek was as good as The Incredibles... not at all... but everyone seemed to love it anyway). My guess is they just go with these five.

So I guess that's it. I don't think it's worth getting into other the categories. But I do love the Golden Globes. Really, even despite all the globe voters' bad habits (unrelenting obsession with certain celebrities, starf*cking tendencies, bribability), I like their awards a lot more than the academy's. I like how they split up their awards and honor comedies. I like how musicals always have an advantage. I like that they're generally more receptive to critical opinion.

And I LOVE that last year they gave 4 statues to Brokeback Mountain and didn't even nominate Crash. Rock on, HFPA.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Good news this week at the box office

It's looking like Snakes on a Plane ekes out a slim victory over Talladega Nights (including thursday night previews), Step Up falls to #5 (could have falled more, but hey I'll take it), Little Miss Sunshine makes more money than Pirates (with more than twice the per-screen average of anything else in the top 10), and the Duff-tastic Material Girls debut at a measly #9. Sweeeet.

Also, Prada is STILL making well over a million per weekend and looks poised to top $120 mill next week.

And "Viva Pedro!" had the second-highest per screen average of anything playing anywhere! It made a grand $10,500 in only one theater.

The holder of the highest per-screen average: The Illusionist (to which I'm neutral).


I've watched Nat's 1982 Dreamgirls clip so many times now that I felt obligated to spread the love and post a link to a different video of Jennifer Holliday, at a different live show. But she's still singing the same grand song. And she's still TEEEEELLLLLLIIIIIN' you.... she's not goin'. To see and hear, click here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I love Little Miss Sunshine.

SO great. Review and grade to follow. I don't want to knee-jerk, but... wow. Maybe I just related to it a lot, but... wow. I love this movie.

OMG! Trust the Man is at 36%!

OK... so... I spoke too soon. Trust the Man is apparently not so good.

And I watched the trailer, and Julianne Moore looks the same as she usually does in light romantic comedies: awkward and a little out of place, not quite in the universe of the humor. So that is sad. BUT it just got me thinking as to why she's so great in "dark comedy" like with her characters in Boogie Nights and Safe... she inhabits those people brilliantly in the same way she awkwardly fails to inhabit characters in light comedy, i.e. characters who are aware of their own humor and its context.

That is the key, I think. The reason Juli is brilliant as Carol White and Amber Waves is that they are unaware of their own funniness. They are lost in the world. Whereas Juli in Trust the Man and Laws of Attraction for example plays women aware of their own humor, who are apparently calling their own shots and making it up on the spot, and she fails at that because she still registers as the Amber Waves or Carol White who is lost in her own environment. She can't play characters who are "funny people" and know they are. She CAN brilliantly portray people whose humor stems from their utter obliviousness and deep sense of existential pain.


(forgive my lack of photoshop skills)

For the record, I believe this thinking also applies to Naomi Watts; she is brilliant as Betty in Mulholland Dr., but not so much as "light n' funny" types... which is why I was so thoroughly impressed with her King Kong turn (I totally bought her as a vaudeville star even though I KNOW she's not).

Now I hesitate to say that this means Watts and Moore are not funny in real life, or that they are actually as oblivious as their richly mined oblivious characters/personas. I don't think that's really the case, although I wouldn't ask either to write me a comedy. I just think they are unable to register humor physically and visually, as actresses. Intellectually I'm sure they have a sense of humor. In fact I've heard Julianne in commentaries and she was quite funny in an intellectual way. But I don't think that she and Watts are "naturally funny" people. They are both great as directors' muses, but I wouldn't trust them to do improv comedy.

And that's all I have to say about that.

p.s. I still love you, Juli! As my post at the Trust the Man blog would indicate.

Friday, August 18, 2006

This is how you know where your true loyalties lie.

I am doing an online crossword right now (I've been doing a lot of them lately... the damn Wordplay movie got me hooked), and there was just a clue that said "Star ____" (4 letters). My first impulse was to put "trek" (duh), but it was actually "wars" (I know this because this crossword site lets you know whether the letters you put in are right or wrong, and trek was wrong, so I changed it).

Now, I am a Star Wars fan too. I really am. But clearly I am a trekkie at heart.

Or maybe it's just cause I happened to watch like 4 hours of various Trek shows today? Spike TV is generous like that.

Anyway. Just thought I'd share.

Monday, August 14, 2006

OMG! Trust the Man!

So apparently, Bart Freundlich's romantic comedy Trust the Man is being released sometime soon now after all. I'm so excited! It currently has 5 reviews on rotten tomatoes, all fresh. So it SHOULD be relatively good.

In it, Julianne Moore plays a successful actress with a stay-at-home husband. Hmmm... what a stretch? Not really. The husband is played by David Duchovny (the director's surrogate, one might say). Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal costar as Moore's brother and his girlfriend.

I hope this turns out to be good. This might actually be Moore's first successful foray into (relatively) light comedy. Cross your fingers, everyone.

BTW, the Streepathon is on hold due to my netflix account being suspended. I have to reactivate it once I get my new credit card, which will be in god-knows-how-long, judging from my bank's repeated incompetence. Sigh.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Hey Joe, what do you know?"

The Democratic party doesn't want you anymore.

Click here to read a good article about the Joe Lieberman loss and what it really means.

Sorry for the switch from the usual film stuff, but I am fleetingly passionate about politics right now. Something good actually happened, and I want to share my happiness and sense of pride. Maybe 2006 will be a good year for elections, finally? Most pundits in the news still don't seem to get it, but assuming we actually have elections that are FAIR this fall, things'll be shaken up a LOT, I think. They certainly need to be.

But dontcha love how I managed to connect this to film? The title of the post is a quote from A.I. referencing Gigolo Joe. But I thought it worked well here.

And also, hey readers, what do you know? This is my 100th post! A milestone. Woop!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman = Loser

YES. Joe Lieberman was just beaten by Ned Lamont in the Conneticut primary.

Now, if only he'd bow out gracefully. Unfortunately, it looks like he'll be running as an independent in November. That sucks. For him and for everyone.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blockbusters and wannabes: Pirates and Superman

OK. So I finally saw these two. And my reactions are not quite what I anticipated.

I don't remember much about the first Pirates... only that I didn't really love it, even though Johnny Depp was hilarious. And that was basically the same reaction I had to this one. The first film was better, as everyone knows, but I'd have to see it again to cement my feelings as to why. This one just seemed too long and hard to get emotionally involved in; the utter ridiculousness of it all, while amusing at times, mostly just kept me from caring about the film. Any time Depp wasn't onscreen, I found myself just wondering what the point was, and why I was watching.

It seemed, basically, like no one much cared about the film. They just went with a basic premise - pirates - and tried to make it funny and visually spectacular. And while it was both of those things, it wasn't exactly... well... good. I got a lot of laughs out of Johnny's slapstick and other amusing antics, but those were only barely worth the long stretches of boredom I had to endure to get there. Also, any time we weren't on an island or aboard a scary pirate ship, I just couldn't buy the film's world/surroundings. What exactly were they going for here? Period? Fantasy? Anything? Or was no one paying attention? It certainly didn't seem like 18th century Europe, or whenever this would've been.

The third film looks like it'll be decent, though. At least Geoffrey Rush is back. As I recall, he provided a lot of the laughs in the first one. I wonder whether public sentiment is still with the franchise enough to make the third film another giant collossal hit, or if it'll be something of a Matrix: Revolutions situation. All in all, I'm a little mad that Dead Man's Chest has turned out to be the biggest hit of the summer and the year... especially since that ruined the box office life of...

...THIS film. Now, with all due respect to Pirates, whose action sequences I'm sure were logistically hellish and quite challenging to pull off, Superman Returns was artful, while Pirates felt cheap and commercial.

I should make something clear right now: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Superman devotee. I'm an X-Men guy. I always thought Superman to be the blandest and most dated of superheroes. But as soon as I walked into that (big screen IMAX/3D) theater (a few minutes late) and heard the old John Williams theme playing over the credits, I was in heaven. Something about that musical mythos just whisked me away, despite all my reservations. Singer was smart to stick with the old score. In fact, he was smart about a lot of things.

I now have to officially apologize to Bryan Singer, whom I'd been hating on for abandoning the X-Men franchise for what I'd assumed were financial reasons, i.e. a Superman movie could make him lots more money. But he put his heart and soul into this. And that wonderful Singer touch (*cough* GAY *cough*) suited the Man of Steel perfectly. And no I don't mean because he sexualized Brandon Routh's finely muscled body, because he didn't (which disappointed me a bit, actually). I just mean that Singer expertly showcased the emotion and romance in the piece, and also played up Superman's perspective as an outsider.

I also have to officially apologize to Kate Bosworth who I used to refer to as "that girl you get when no one else will do it"; she didn't annoy me one bit here. In fact, I thought she was quite good. The part also would've been well played by the esteemed Rachel McAdams (to whom Kate bears a striking resemblance, I just realized) but Bosworth did quite well. I actually don't get the comments by Nathaniel and others about Lois being "reimagined", cause I thought she was basically her same old self. Somewhat tamed and domesticated, sure, after years without Superman and with a little boy to care for, but she was still feisty and defiant, always getting into trouble, always wanting to do her own story and ignore Superman's magnetic pull on the press.

Speaking of Superman, Brandon Routh was very good for a newbie, bringing a welcome "aw, shucks" forthrightness to his character, and veterans Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey were delicious as the campy villains. I generally hate Kevin Spacey now cause he's so smarmy and full of himself, so I thought casting him as Luthor was genius.

The story was more complex and interesting than I was expecting, though it's still traditional as can be. Superman aka Clark Kent returns from a 5-or-so-year sojourn searching for his home world of Krypton, resuming his duties as newsman and secret superhero (both Clark and Superman mysteriously return at the same time, after having disappeared at the same time, but of course, no one is the wiser). He, surprisingly, finds his old flame Lois Lane engaged and with child, and a messy love triangle/quadrilateral ensues. Old nemesis Lex Luther is of course planning to destroy the world (along with Superman), so the man of steel must deal with this new crisis along with sorting out his troubled love life. The result of this setup is a gorgeous film, replete with thrilling setpieces and beautiful silences, and stunning imagery all around.

People are no doubt comparing it to The Hulk, which took a similarly highbrow approach to a standard comic book character. Both films were not loved, and arguably misunderstood, by audiences, and both fared disappointingly at the box office. I didn't see The Hulk, so I can't really make a comparison. But I will say that I loved the highbrow sensibility given Superman. It didn't feel stale at all, but rather, it took a character and story I've never much cared for and suddenly made me care for him. I do think part of the reason it hasn't done better business is the lack of big stars in the lead roles. Routh was an unknown before this, and Bosworth is no Julia Roberts. Even Spacey and Posey, loved as they are by some film buffs, don't have the wide appeal of a Tom Cruise, or even a Christian Bale, for that matter. So all the film really had to sell was the Superman name, and if the grosses are any indication, maybe the public is a bit sick of Superman. That's unfortunate, because the film actually made a believer out of me, one who once thought Superman was stupid.

I used to think it fitting that Singer's abandoned child X-Men: The Last Stand outdid Superman at the box office despite being an inferior film; now, it just makes me angry. This movie deserved better. Maybe I was influenced by the 3D and the IMAX, but I thought Superman Returns was spectacular. It takes a little while to find its footing, sure... but once it does, it takes off like a speeding bullet. Despite its inherent flaws as a cheesy genre film, it succeeded for me as an intimate epic with heroism, humor, and heart. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the best film I've seen yet this year.

Dead Man's Chest:
"You're seeing it anyway, so who cares what I think?"

Superman Returns:
"Underrated... and really good."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The cast of Proof again

Not that you care... but I love them.