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Why Did The Last Titan Marry The Grass Lord?

The most likely answer: confusion or desperation.  After all, there weren’t any other Titans around and she may not have been thinking clearly after joining the Grass Lord in whatever he does all day.  But all abstract conversations aside, this weekend brings you a loud and strange bunch of circus freaks.  In the main tent, we have an epic action blockbuster with extra dimensions, and beside it is a semi-serious turn for Disney titan (Hanna Montana).  One ringmaster, Tyler Perry, offers an entertainment guaranteed to underwelm critics and cash in at the box office.  In the smaller tents there’s a historical war import starring Jet Li and an odd drama with Edward Norton playing twins.  Yessir, there are plenty of better things to do with your time and money this weekend.  However, if you’re in the mood for a movie, imagine all the money you would spend as carnival tickets, because as with fairs and festivals, going to the movies this weekend is a gamble.  First up, the loudest show in town: Clash Of The Titans (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“It takes a lot of movie magic to reduce some 3000 years of mythology to piffle. After watching this farrago produced by state-of-the-art 3-D and CGI, I’m all for the return of the oral tradition.” Peter Keough Boston Phoenix

Yeah, but a return to the oral tradition means the end of modern film criticism.  Consider campfire stories, an existing oral tradition.  After someone has told a spooky tale about one-handed killers, no one likes the person who starts criticizing the killer’s motives.  Buzz kill, and not in a ‘screeching violins‘ way.

“It’s as if Medusa herself were behind the camera, turning everything on screen into stone.” Steve Persall St. Petersburg Times

Look away! Look away!

“Clash of the Titans isn’t art, but it’s a specialized craft that turns men into boys and film critics into optimistic — OK, slightly less cynical — popcorn consumers for the briefest of moments.” Justin Strout Orlando Weekly

Men will become boys and film critics will eat popcorn.  Not exactly prophetic.

“There’s not much here that will stick with you after the popcorn’s gone. But as any ancient Greek could tell you, that’s sort of the point.” Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

It sounds like the critics who liked this movie were just happy to have popcorn in their laps while watching it.  Perhaps a well-fed critic is a happy critic.

“Aside from further output from Lady Gaga, I can’t think of much that’s more unnecessary than a remake of Clash of the Titans, at least until they remake Godzilla.” Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine

You mean, again?

Apparently cheese cinema can do what actual cheese cannot: spoil and then get better again.

“Clash of the Titans is a flawed but mildly entertaining regurgitation of Greek mythological elements, but it’s also an example of how poorly executed 3D can hamstring a would-be spectacle.” ReelViews James Berardinelli

Uh-oh.  First chink in the 3D armor.  When 2D starts to look like the good old days, the 3D-tide has begun to recede. Should we serenade this soon-to-be-fading fad with a Last Song (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?

“It might as well wear a ‘kick-me’ sign for critics, grouches and Internet trolls … No matter: Its intended youngish, girlish audience should like it just fine, satisfied sniffles and all.” Matt Soergel Florida Times-Union

I’m not an intended youngish girl.  Are sniffles supposed to be satisfying?

“The Last Song is like one of those annoying tunes you’ve heard so many times before that when it comes on the radio, you immediately switch stations.” Rebecca Murray About.com

I only hurry to switch stations when an annoying advertisement comes on.

Even advertisements can have dark pasts

“Cyrus is ghastly in The Last Song, bad not just in one or two ways, but in all kinds of ways. It was a disservice to the audience, to the material and to Cyrus herself that she was put in this position.” Mick LaSalle San Francisco Chronicle

You don’t need to scold me.  I wasn’t going to see it.

“Perhaps feel-good tragedy doesn’t quite capture it; feel-good sadism might be more like it.” Liam Lacey Globe and Mail

Does feel-good sadism = feel-bad masochism? If so, the masochist wins by losing.

“I like Miley Cyrus. I like her in spite of the fact that she’s been packaged within an inch of her life. I look forward to the day when she squirms loose from her handlers and records an album of classic songs, performed with the same sincerity as her godmother, Dolly Parton. I think it’ll be a long, long time until she plays a movie character like the free-standing, engaging heroines of Ashley Judd, but I can wait.” Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

I feel like I just read an except from Ebert’s diary.  If I turned the page, he might talk about Tyler Perry’s most recent cinematic effort: Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic) starring Tyler Perry.  His new movie follows his classic trend of not allowing critics it to see it before it comes out, hence it’s no-show status in these roundups. It’s a sequel and stars Janet Jackson, but the most interesting thing about it is that only one critic has seen it as of my writing this.  The one critic is Armond White.  Let’s hear it.

“Since Married Too? is not Perry’s first attempt at filmmaking, his reliance on formula becomes disconcerting. In fact, since the execrable Meet the Browns, Perry’s conventions have been unacceptable…There is also primitivism in the sitcom essence of Perry’s storytelling. That would suggest a deliberate aesthetic, but Perry’s sameyness implies no aesthetic.” Armond White New York Press

Art without aesthetics is like engineering without math.  And while we’re listing scholastic pursuits, how’s your 19th Century Chinese history: Warlords (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?

“It’s a surprisingly nuanced and sober tale of brotherhood and betrayal.” NPR Mark Jenkins

Would drunk betrayal be funnier?

“The vicissitudes of Qing dynasty politics in the mid-19th century remain rather confusing, and the bloodiness of the battles is relentless, but the film has something to say about the spiritual corruption that afflicts men who live by war.” Anthony Quinn Independent

I’m guessing it’s bad.

“Side-stepping the cold-steel visual perfection of ‘Hero’ and the fairytale detachment of ‘Crouching Tiger…’, the film hews closer to ‘Spartacus’” Tom Huddlestone Time Out

How close to Spartacus does it hew?

“There are no pecs and no leather Speedos, but there is a baffled general who, when facing defeat, blurts out the iconic line: “This is madness!”” Kevin Maher Times [UK]

No pecs or Speedos in the Chinese war drama?  I’ll return fire with the spoiler cannon and say there aren’t aliens, go carts, or nunchuck-wielding nuns either.

“Blood, sweat and tears flow in this grimy action-adventure-cum-male-melodrama, which features a Pan-Asian superstar trifecta doing their best to emphatically outgrimace each other.” Keith Uhlich Time Out New York

Should he be smiling?

“Chan’s old-fashioned, highly watchable mega-production comes complete with God’s-eye surveys of mass carnage, the moist sounds of sword-skewering, and little or no discernible CGI.” Rob Nelson Village Voice

Perhaps one day we’ll say goodbye to CGI, along with 3D, and Smell-O-Vision (aka. AromaRama).  The fads of yesterday will wither and die like Leaves Of Grass (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“His (Nelson) timing is off and his bullshit detector nonexistent. I don’t much care for the Coens, but the sad truth is that their cynical nihilism is a lot less spurious than Nelson’s earnest sentimentality.” Village Voice J. Hoberman

Village Voice dropping the Double Diss.  However, if I were Nelson (known more for acting than directing), I would be humbled and happy to share a sentence with a Coen comparison.

“Suddenly abandons all comedic promises and turns into a sadistic action film…a textbook example of a promising movie that takes a wrong turn from which it never recovers.” Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine

Textbook wrong turn

“Tim Blake Nelson’s Leaves of Grass is some kind of sweet, wacky masterpiece. It takes all sorts of risks, including a dual role with Edward Norton playing twin brothers, and it pulls them off.” Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

Wow, the spectrum of opinions range from sadistic to sweet and wrong turn to masterpiece. Is there an explanation for this genre confusion?

“Leaves of Grass is part goofy drug comedy, part shocking bloodbath. It’s a riot of tones and genres, but unlike that other recent hybrid, Pineapple Express, the parts add up to something larger.” David Edelstein New York Magazine

Pineapple Bullet Train?

“Meant to blow your mind when not pulling your leg, the film has some surreal surprises in store. Like homicidal potheads, a Jewish menorah wielded as a deadly weapon, and a suspicious swastika scrawled backwards at a bible belt synagogue crime scene.” Prairie Miller NewsBlaze

King Sheep will pay you a dollar to say that last sentence three times in one breath.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s simple physics: bad 3-D is a whole dimension worse than bad 2-D.

    And drunken betrayal is always funnier.

  2. My enemy’s enemy is my friend. Today, Armond White, I shake you by the hand.

    And reading Ebert’s diary made me sentimental for a time when he found Blue Velvet to be shower inducing.

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