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“Alice Fine?” Brooklyn Wondered

“To quote Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again.” The Onion (A.V. Club) Nathan Rabin

I begin with this quote because it sums up both of this week’s releases.  Johnny Depp stars in the biggest movie (and the one most likely to take Avatar‘s spot as the 3-D movie option at the multiplex), but it is based on a story that’s been remade more times than a Las Vegas hotel bed.  And the starting quote was meant for the second movie: Brooklyn’s Finest (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) because the theme/story/actor are similar to the director’s previous cop movie (Training Day) and the tale of three cops involved in a uncover drug operation sounds too much like a TV movie.  So, with two options before us, I’m reminded of my (and my Dad’s) favorite Yogi Berrism: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

“Here, due in large measure to a highly derivative screenplay, the director allows several reckless, unprofessional cops drive the movie into utter nonsense.”  The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

New plan: Don’t let the reckless, unprofessional cops drive.

“Other than a few dashes of humor managed by Hawke, the movie is relentlessly bleak and barbarous, Fuqua grinding viewers down through his cavemen-with-badges depiction of police work.” David Germain Associated Press

They can’t all be Gieko salesmen.

Some are already badges

“Antoine Fuqua is a master of this kind of anxiety — much like his acclaimed Training Day, there are moments so nerve-racking one is actually afraid to look directly at the screen.” Sara Vilkomerson New York Observer

“The title Brooklyn’s Finest is drowning in irony, of course, but Fuqua’s moves are less obvious: His film is classical and gritty, his violence makes you want to duck and run.” Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea

Watching this film will make me so anxious I’ll either stare at the floor or bolt for the door.  What’s the incentive to see this movie?

“A melodrama about three cliches in search of a bloodbath.” San Francisco Chronicle Mick LaSalle

Is it a happy ending if they find it?

Are these arc-bound animals sailing towards a happy ending or someone's stomach?

“By stepping up his game, Fuqua’s gone from his usual bullcrap to horsehockey.” Armond White New York Press

If stepping up turns bullcrap into horsehockey, backing up must land him in cowshit.

“It’s built of rigidly interlocking calamities, and the movie revels in the cartooniest details of street life.” Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly

Speaking of cartoon details, they appear in abundance throughout Tim Burton’s trip down the rabbit hole: Alice in Wonderland (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Carroll purists and freshman English majors may be aghast at the change in story, but for those who watched “Avatar” and marveled at the images but were left wanting by the wooden acting and tired story, “Alice” is a treat.”  Arizona Republic Bill Goodykoontz

Carroll purists will remember that the cakes in the story said “Eat Me” and made people huge.  A Carroll impurist would wonder if the cake=huge connection was a veiled comment on the perils of sweets leading to obesity.

“Tim Burton, plus Alice, plus 3D equals an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind movie experience. It will clean up.” Boxoffice Magazine Pete Hammond

Wow, it even cleans the theater?  This 3-D technology is even more impressive than I realized.

However, we should all fear weaponized 3-D technology

“For all its clever design, beguiling creatures and witty actors, the picture feels far more conventional than it should; it’s a Disney film illustrated by Burton, rather than a Burton film that happens to be released by Disney.” Variety Todd McCarthy

That’s okay.  It already was a Disney film illustrated by Disney.  Deja vu?

“Here’s a riddle: What’s Alice in Wonderland without wonder? It’s a beloved character landing in the rubble of wrong-headed revisionism.”  St. Louis Post-Dispatch Joe Williams

Wrong.  It’s Alice in Land.  Or is that another wrong-headed revision?

“A bona fide, bums-in-the-air fiasco that needs to be burned and the ashes hurtled off in the direction of the nearest black hole as soon as you can, NASA.” Robbie Collin News of the World

If it’s as bad as you say, do we really want to send it into space as an ambassador for Earth?  Then again, Depp’s make-up and hair might keep invaders away.

The Reverse-Rushmore: Another bums-in-the-air fiasco.

“Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland is a succession of fantastically gothic pranks–noisy, exhausting, and under-realized, but also frequently dazzling and frightening.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

Both of this week’s films are described as exhausting?  So much for finding escapism at the theater this week.

“Kids will drool at Burton’s spectacle – grown-ups too – but they might also find this isn’t the nostalgia trip they hoped for. Where’s the bottle marked ‘Feel Me’?” Stella Papamichael Digital Spy

That sounds dirty.  But if that bottle exists, it’s right next to a donation jar that reads “Pay Me.”

“It might be time for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton to start thinking about seeing other people. Alice in Wonderland, their seventh film together, is so thoroughly soul-deadening and laborious that the prospect of an eighth collaboration feels like the sword of Damocles.” New York Observer Christopher Rosen

Wow, what was that earlier comment about English majors?  For the unititatied (and I’m one of them), the Sword of Damocles is the Greek legend of a man who experiences being king for a day and while he enjoys the pleasures of sitting on the throne, he quits when he sees that a sword always dangles over the king’s head (literally in this case, figuratively the rest of the time).   The reviewer’s comparison here implies that even the possibility of Sleepy Hollow 2, would be like having Edward Scissorhands dangling Batman-style over his head?  I think I just talked myself into more confusion.  And rather than continue this Sisyphean task of holding up the criticism of critics to be criticized, let’s leave gravity to deal with the rock and go enjoy our weekends.

PDJ says this roundup is over when it's over.

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7 Responses

  1. You are in fine form, Johnson. Love the pictures, love the jokes, love the mythology. I’m awarding you the blogger of the week award for making me laugh and for kicking my blog’s ass all over the blogosphere! Great work, babe.

  2. Does this person called Sarah have a time machine?

    Here timestamp says tomorrow. That’s awesome.

    AWESOME!

  3. I have one too!

  4. It’s not accurate to call the new Alice “revisionist,” since it’s not intending to rewrite the story; it gives us a new story while honoring the old one. But I do agree with Todd McCarthy – it seems like a clean Burton movie (or a dark Disney movie). I consider it a mid-range success for Burton.

  5. Actually what I mean is that the audience is the king and the next Burton/Depp crapfest is the sword. Doesn’t seem that hard to grasp, especialy since it’s a fairly well used expression.

  6. Actually, the biggest sign that Pat’s blog has “arrived” is that one of his sources is here defending his blurb! Rad. (I personally think both of your explanations of the metaphor are valid and fun, guys.)

  7. I see your point, but my blogger ethos prioritizes humor over clarity.

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