Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm a Marvel - and I'm a DC with X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and GREEN LANTERN


Ah, now time for a kind of blog I'll only be writing... um, every other month by the look of the cineplexes.  There was a time when a comic book adaptation would be, well, not a super rare thing, but not something one would expect every other week.  But now that it's summer of 2011 we got a schedule that sees at least one flick from DC Comics or Marvel comics in theaters till near the end of summer.  This isn't to say it's a bad thing, or a particularly great happening either, just a sign of the times post-Dark Knight.

But as happenstance happens, I got to see two movies back to back, as per those Youtube videos, of a Marvel movie (seeing my second time following the first time two weeks ago) and a DC movie.  And they each have their own themes or characteristics that overlap, of characters having to learn what to do with their great powers and responsibilities and all that jazz.  How they are as fully functional films?  Let's see...

X-Men: First Class takes its place in the X-Men movie saga - as the technical fifth film since 2000's X-Men - but it's important to know right up front that Bryan Singer returning to the franchise (as producer and co-writer) means that there's not a strict adherance to continuity.  Indeed to Singer and director Matthew Vaughn the third film (mediocre but not bad) and the Wolverine Origins (shit) might as well not exist.  Though the film doesn't really make this point strong enough, once one gets through this point then one can take it as the follow-up to X2, and thankfully this is not just a worthy follow-up to that entertainment.  With a few flaws, which I'll get to in a moment, it's the strongest movie of the franchise, as fun and as deep drama.

X-Men has always been about giving weight and consequence to the themes, of the "different" trying to go with mankind, or just not, while having some good ol' mutant fights.  A key conversation between a young Erik Lenksher (Michael Fassbender) and a young Charles Xavier playing chess (message!) illustrates this as they talk of what to do when they arrive at what is the Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missle Crisis time in 1962.  "We have a chance to show we're the better men," says Charles.  "We ARE already the better men," replies a curt Erik. 

"You choose black?" "It suits me well."
Where they come from is an important point for how they see the world and humanity and at large, and this conflict is what makes up the most captivating aspect of the film, and underlying in the other films as well (or at least the first movie).  One comes from a fairly well off background growing up in a manion in Yonkers, New York, while the other is right out of the concentration camp of Poland circa 1944.  One can guess where this kind of perspective leads, but seeing it played out is something else.

The film opens with a young Erik getting his indoctrination to his powers before he really knew he had them, through a Nazi named Schmidt - aka Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) - who kills Erik's mother before his eyes just to get a reaction (which he does, in one of those staggering scenes that is so graphic in its intensity, not so much violence but just the imagery of brutality, to probably scar the little ones in the audience).  Then by the time 1962 rolls around Erik is a Nazi hunter, tracking down those from the camps one by one, and then coming to Shaw the same time the CIA does, with a Xavier in tow.  This is the start of the X-Men before there really is an idea of what they can really do; The Right Stuff is a good base of comparison when not looking at early James Bond (both favorable homages by the way, if not so intentional the former). 

Hello breasts, I mean, Emma, Ice Queen, right...
And it's through this Vaughn gets his fantastic hook: the first stage in a very long struggle with little end in sight, "Us" vs "Them", and what side there is.  What makes it so fascinating is that not only do Charles and Erik having these differing views, but that the mutants they bring in to the fold - including a young Raven (Mystique), Alex Summers (Havoc), Banshee, and of course Hank McCoy (Beast) - have their own points of view on where to stand.  It's not that Xavier is entirely right, nor that Erik is even 'wrong' at all either.  Both sides have their gray areas of morality, of trusting humans too much to do the right thing and losing their faith in them completely (and, perhaps, rightfully so) through years of oppresion and hardship.  Characters like Raven and Hank make up quasi-avatars for the audience to fall into, and all the while in the scope of history unfolding in Cold-War era nuclear (near) chaos. 

While the stakes are so high, and by the time the climax comes and Erik has to face his Dr. Frankenstein Shaw, there's still some fun Vaughn doesn't let slide.  Having a young new crew of actors and characters could be tricky, but there's just enough time with them for there to be interest without the overkill of two-dimensional beings.  The training montage is a big part of this, showing how good they get to be in order to take on Shaw, and it's funny, thrilling stuff done with a flashy quasi-Bond style appropriate for the material.  Now, this isn't to say every character is played totally spot on.  One of the major complaints fans have had with the film, and I'd join this sentiment, is that January Jones, as Emma Frost, is so flat that there's just nothing there but vacancy (and one knows she has some talent and range through her work on 'Mad Men'). 

And yet there is so much to make this work - among the more superior summer blockbuster in recent memory.  And I must stress again how tremendously the filmmakers pulled off the story of Erik Lensherr.  This isn't to diminish Xavier (and James McAvoy's touching portrayal, done with humor and vigor), but for me The Man Who Would Be Magneto is such a gripping story, told within the framework of the rest of this origin story, that makes up some of the best set-pieces and moments from any comic-book movie, ever. 

Part of it is Fassbender's performance  (in case Craig isn't up to task anymore, get this man as 007 stat), as well as Bacon's, which has been underrated since the reaction's come out to the movied.  But it's just the scope of it that works; it's almost as if, unintentionally, they got right the Anakin Skywalker origin story completely, as a boy, separated from his mother, turns to the dark side through how he was brought up, with some guidance but not enough to move away from his fate (and hey, they both end up with kick-ass helmets!)

The movie is far from perfect, for some of the reasons I've stated and a couple others like some lame jokes near the end ("I'm a professor... soon I'll be losing my hair," says Xavier, ::rolls eyes::), and a couple of silly moments with some boat-captains of the US and Russian variety during the climax.  But, bottom line, this is THE X-Men movie, understanding of what makes this world so compelling, what drives the mutants to do the good they do, or the bad, and how there's no easy choice either way.  That's something special in a genre where the most prominent figure (Superman) is in full-on black-and-white morality mode most of the time.  As in any good dramatic story tension is good, and this has a lot.  Just see that one cameo mid-way through with that guy who was in that movie for more on that... vague?  You betcha.  Oh, and did I mention it has spectacular action sequences?  Well, it does. 

and next up...

I can't say I was having heavy anticipation, or even strong expectations aside from "this better not SUCK", with the first ever Green Lantern theatrical film.  Mostly because I hadn't read the comic, and it still may be a little while till I get around to them all (though I hear Geoff Johns work is no less than seminal, if not totally perfect).  But by the end of this film, directed by Martin Campbell (of 007 reboots, twice, and the Zorro reboot from 1998), starring Ryan Reynolds in the titular role of Hal Jordan, an ace pilot who has some father issues (what major superhero character doesn't have some parental issues?) is 'chosen' by the ring ala A-Bin-Sur's death/arrival on Earth to become a Green Lantern as part of the Corps of Lanterns all across the known universe... I didn't like it a lot to heartily recommend it, nor hate it enough to damn to Hades.  It is what it is, okay Popcorn fare. 

Which, perhaps, may not be good enough for some, certain not the legions (and I know they're out there if nothing else at seeing the multitudes in the packed audience wearing the shirts) of fans of the Hal Jordan/Green Lantern saga, which has been one of DC's staples off and on since the 1940's.  It still sticks to its science fiction roots, which is commendanble, but perhaps also it was always going to be difficult to make a Green Lantern movie that wasn't a little... well, silly.  It deals with really big moral concepts like "Will" (identified by the color green that the Lanterns are powered by), and "Fear" (powered by the color yellow... get it?), and yet the main villain here, a giant head attached to a whole spectrum of, uh, sand-worm things and shit, called Paralax, is powered by Fear and yet can't seem to be destroyed by the HUNDREDS of Lanterns, who we see assembled on the Lantern-Base Oar (sic) without patroling their own sectors most of the time we see the planet. 

SPOILER:  Not the villain, would his face lie?
It's a villain who should by all accounts be imposing and threatening, and yet I was more creeped out (if not really seeing as a really big threat) by Peter Sarsgaard's performance as the scientist who while doing an autopsy on A-Bin-sur (still sic) gets infected by the same "Fear" that makes up Paralax, and can a) hear people's thoughts, and b) can shoot lasers from his eyes and/or control matter with his mind. 

In a sense this gives him the combined powers of a Xavier and Magneto, but without any of the real character "umph".  All we get really is a minor Daddy issue with his Senator father (a decent but all-too-brief role by Tim Robbins), and then he turns into a bulbous weird-headed creature.  It's a character and performance by the always competent Sarsgaard that I found fascinating, not necessarily because it did work but because it didn't (maybe, as my friend suggested, it was cause of his hair, as he looked weird from the start instead of a more natural progression of a transformation).

But what about Hal Jordan?  How does he fare here?  Ryan Reynolds surely does the best he can with the character, what he's given anyway, albeit whoever said he would've been better as "The Flash" would probably be correct.  His Ace Pilot Jordan is a cocky sort, fun to watch though probably not for too long, and has a streak about him that is part Chuck Yeagher flying so high up to break some records, and part Daddy-issue guy (what's up with that, for realz?), not helped much by HAVING HIS PICTURE in the plane he flies but then has to crash since he focuses on a bad flashback for too long.  So needless to say he has some doubts about the gig for being a Lantern, which is fine.  Except that - and this is a flaw I place on the writers and Campbell - he's on this planet, being trained by Lanterns who know their shit like Kilawog and the stalwart Sinestro (a wonderful if one-note Mark Strong), and then he just leaves to go back to Earth.

While there's more plot to go around once he gets back there, it's a predictable beat that shouldn't feel so much so, and there's so little time spent on this strange and cool looking alien planet of Or (sic again, sorry, I'll look this crap up later).  Unlike last month's Thor, which found a good balance between the out-of-this-world-but-recognizable home of Asgard with the scenes on Earth, this has a good start on both Or and Earth... but once Jordan comes back to Earth, the movie doesn't really go in an interesting enough direction.  It has a little of what we expect, of Jordan finding his courage to Be All He Can Be(R), but it would have had more at stake if there was more time spent out in space and less with Blake Lively. 

(Then again there is a scene mid-way through that tickled my funny bone for how, unintentionally, the film poked fun at a superhero mythos and those who know the hero finding out the identity, as Jordan flies up to Blake Lively's apartment, and then she just realizes after several seconds, Hey!  You're Hal!  She then says, "Why do you have that mask on?"  "It came with the costume," he says.  This may be wittier than I'd give the filmmakers credit for... or just enough).

Green Lantern works as a decent spectacle machine, but I'm not sure if I missed something along the way.  There's some fun to be had as Jordan finds what he can do with this ring - which allows him to create anything with his mind (what, chocolate fudge brownie ice cream not good enough for you?) - and yet I wasn't sure how much of this should be taken seriously, or as just goofy comic book fun.  The big climax of the film has Jordan facing off solo (cause, you know, the other Lanterns aren't going to do nuthin even as they know he could use, you know, HELP) against Paralax, and it suddenly is taken out into space as Jordan has to stop it from attacking Earth.  So they go to the sun... and this where I started to feel my funny bone tickling where I know it shouldn't be.  This is an enthralling, dramatic finale, no?  But then there's a giant fist made via the ring and then... oh, damn it, did I say too much?

The Guardians, aka: the most useless bunch of Yoda's this side of Or.
As a not-quite fan I can't say what is really worth rushing out to see it.  If you have a little kid, by all means they'll have fun with the visual effects, some good (the Lantern Council is well done) and some not so good (some of Jordan's 'effects' like the machine gun and the race track).  Others may feel bored, and others may tire of Jordan's jokes, despite Reynolds really trying to give it his all.  Maybe a sequel could flesh things out, or make it a full-on space adventure, which would be nice.  It's not a terrible start to a would-be franchise, and nothing to write home about either.  Oh, wait. 

In this match-up, the winner: MARVEL!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

'Bout Damn Time - BUTCH CASSIDY and THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)

Here's yet another series I'm starting up, which I'll attend to as much as I do my other blog-post series, which is, well, as soon as I can get to them all.  But this one sprang to mind as did along the lines of the Netflix blog I did back in January: using the blog format as a way to motivate me to get up (or I should say down) and get to one of the many films I have waiting for me to see that I've yet to come around to for so long.  Only this time it's a little more personal - it's films that I've OWNED, whether as a copy or an original, for maybe as short as a couple of weeks, or as long as a decade.

You all know what it's like, you reading in your comfy chair or while driving your car (on second thought, don't do that, please, be mindful!)  It's about how we all accumulate stuff, at sales with books or music or movies, and we just don't get around to them all (my wife, for example, has amassed the kind of collection of books that she'd need absolutely no time for anything else aside from reading for a year to get through them all).  I don't begrudge this kind of thing, it's just what it is.  But what better way to finally get through some of these things than to watch em and then write about em.

First up on the list... and can you believe it - George Roy Hill's near-masterpiece Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

You know about these fellers, doncha?  They robbed banks, among other things such as trains and anything that seemed promising of a good collection of thousands.  They had a good little crew too, the "Hole in the Wall" gang.  They garnered a reputation that was one of efficient and ruthless, yet also kind of... amusing, or amused, with the people they held up.  That was until they bit off just a little more than they could chew, and during one of their railroad robberies another railroad car pulled up, and out came the posse of Searchers to hunt them down, lead by a tracker and a couple other bad dudes who knew how to pull a gun.  So they high-tailed it to Butch's idea for an escape plan: Bolivia ("Where is that?" Sundance first asks, being geography probably not his strong suit), with a lady friend who they sorta shared as romantic interests.  But down South, it was a whole other story altogether...

It may sound like I just said all this as fact.  Really, I don't have much of an idea what is true or fiction made by William Goldman for the script of this film, and frankly I may not totally care either.  The film is it's own object, and I can take it as some of it, maybe little slices such as Sundance's lack of being able to swim, as being 'true' (or with what Stephen Colbert could call "Truthiness"), while the rest is just the author's imagination riled up for making a buddy-sorta-Western.  But it's a rip-roaring yarn all the same that allows for what is so good in filmmaking: showing, not telling, which Goldman and director George Roy Hill soak up to such a degree that you almost forget these guys can talk... until they do, and you want them to keep on talking as they have some of the best rapore of any on-screen male duo in American film history.

"I wish I knew how to quit you."  "Um... no you don't, we rob banks!"  ".. Oh.  Let's jump!"
Their story spans two countries, and probably at least a year give or take several months, and it's not quite until we see some of the technological advancements like, say, a bicycle, that we get a grasp on this being (like The Wild Bunch also released in 1969) about the Western as a time of transition into a more modern time, and gunslinger-robbers like Butch and Sundance finding themselves in a tighter and tighter spot.  It's a strong story, but that's actually not entirely what made me (mostly) love the film.

It's these two guys, and naturally how Paul Newman and Robert Redford make them their own.  Newman is a born charmer, and has the kind of comic timing that makes him such a wonderful presence even as you know he can whip a gun out like it's anyone's business (but firing one, that's another story), while Redford surprised me with how well he played off Newman (as an actor he can be hit or miss for me, and here he hits with amazing intensity, real and comic).

::Turning neck to see how big Paul Newman's balls were... and they were mighty::

Seeing this pair is what makes it so compelling, since we have to be with these guys every step of the way, and on their side as they're criminals and the supposed "villains".  So soon after Bonnie and Clyde it could have seemed to be taking from that film's anti-authority/anti-hero thunder, but the difference lies in perspective: there's just no accounting for how far Bonnie and Clyde will go, but with Butch and Sundance there is some pause and some doubt and they do try to go straight in Bolivia, with some upsetting results.

And while Penn's film may ultimately be better - for a specific reason I'll get to in a moment - I felt much more of a connection to these two, as they have that kind of close connection and, yes, chemistry that makes them indelible in our minds long after the movie's over.  And while we're with them, it's not any kind of slog: it's a fun time, even when there's real danger as they're being chased across the desert and plains and woods of the West, with cynical jabs and jokes at each other's (and the situation's) expense.

So it's a combination of witty and very human writing, direction that takes the story to the exact beats where it needs to (the pacing is fantastic), and Conrad Hall's cinematography is not to be underestimated, especially in the quieter scenes like when Redford comes back to 'home' and startles Katharine Ross, having her strip slowly in front of him (a scene with good tension since we don't know who her character is really at first).

Not to mention the music by Burt Bacharach which, when it comes up - often Hill has no music during those extended chase scenes, which is the right decision - is a hoot to listen to, elegaic and sweet and just right for the period... except for one flaw, which, I'm sorry fans of the number, his song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."  While the sense of humor of the film isn't exactly subtle, it doesn't fit with this scene that feels crowbarred in with Newman and Ross on a bicycle frolicking to this song; a moment involving a giant bull almost makes it fun again, but it's mostly stupid and dated, the only part of the film that sticks out like a sore-thumb.

Matter of fact, take that out and you got a really great film, one loaded with pathos and heart and a whole lot of laughs.  Just watch how Butch treats dissent in his group with the giant lummox who tries to usurp him, and how he interacts with the others (Sundance mostly watching), and then strikes pretty quickly and yet the whole scene, suspenseful as it is, is totally played for laughs.  These leads are iconic figures, yes, but also grounded in some kind of reality that makes it relatable, and comical.  It can be rough and gritty and holy shit what an ending of course (almost on par, if not in violence then in the epic scope and pacing, with The Wild Bunch), and there are passages that are moving just on cinematographic terms like the photo-montage of the leads in layaway in New York City... but I'd dare say that I wasn't laughing through a lot of it.  That takes guts for a serious "dramatic" action-Western.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Double RIP Train - Gunnar Fischer and Laura Ziskin

So a sad day once again in film, with two notable (if just shy of legendary) figures passing on, one with a very full life, and one with so much time left and cut off short.

First, the "old-timer", and how appropriate that Gunnar Fischer, a cinematographer from Sweden with many films under his belt, should have been not only Ingmar Bergman's first major collaborator behind the scenes, but also DP of the iconic The Seventh Seal.

So, let that just sink in for a second, this man:

shot this:

Oh yeah, that's bad-ass.  Adding to that he is also responsible for the eerie and moving lighting for the dream sequences of Wild Strawberries, and an underrated little gem from Bergman featuring one hell of a Beethoven ending, To Joy.  Among his other credits, which can be found here, he had shot... well, all the notable Bergman films pre-"Silence" trilogy, which is when Sven Nykvist came on the scene.  His work in Summer with Monika, Smiles of a Summer Night, and Thirst aren't to be sneezed at, as it's filled with expression and life and always in black and white (naturally, since Bergman didn't work with color till the mid 60's).  That he helped make Bergman become one of THE directors of all time is not to be underestimated (in fact I'll include not one but TWO clips from his work with Bergman to illustrate this point).  Perhaps this will finally be the kick in my pants I needed to watch The Magician (1958).

...But that death, while sad, had the man marked at age 100 at the time of passing, which even beats out Ingmar Bergman's death at 89 (yes, perverse shit I am, I do keep count of these things).  Whereas the producer and sometimes writer Laura Ziskin has passed at 61 from breast cancer.  According to reports, she died with her family by her side, which includes Spider-Man 2 writer Alvin Sergeant, and leaves behind a fine little legacy.

Starting out as an associate producer on The Eyes of Laura Mars (a movie I reviewed here on this blog way back some months ago), she moved on up over time to produce the outrageous comedy like What About Bob? (also writer of), then moving on create FOX 2000 pictures, which under 20th Century Fox made such risky fare like The Thin Red Line and Fight Club.

Then she basically made bank for the rest of her life by being one of the main producers of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (also listed as producer of the new reboot slated for next year, so expect a "To Laura" either at the start or end of the film most likely).  From all accounts she was a great person to work with, and obviously heralded some good projects in her time - full filmography on the link above - and fought long as she could until she couldn't anymore.

RIP to them both.

And, as usual, pictures mean a thousand more words than I could come up with.  What's up on the screen matters, and a cinematographer and a producer can each live on through the work they helped the director's make real.  So there:

JJ Abrams' (and Steven Spielberg's) SUPER 8

If nothing else, a memorable neck-turning poster of all time.
Super 8 impressed me until it stopped being so, and it gave me a little bit of awe early on and some chills with a couple of moments with a monster (let's call him/it that even as him/it is an alien), and the Spielberg influence (which may be tantamount to him directing over Abrams shoulder as much as being a producer, who knows) was fine... until it wasn't.  Super 8 has the makings of a charming and slightly sad coming of age story about a boy getting over the death of his mother by helping out his friend making a zombie movie, and then little by little following a BIG HOLY BLEEP train crash turns into something else.

Homage can be a powerful thing if done right or with some conviction, as Quentin Tarantino has showed us many times, and Abrams is on homage-overdrive here in Super 8... that and, you know, lens flare, which I'll get more into in a moment.  It's easy to point out many of the places Abrams has loving "thank you for making me a filmmaker" stuff: Jaws with the not-showing-the-monster style of suspense/action set-pieces (which work really well because of the not-showing which is a nice touch); the Goonies style of kids off on a crazy adventure they can't be totally sure about; Close Encounters and/or ET's way of showing suburban discontent edged in with the child-like awe of things from "out there" coming into our lives. 

This is all fine, except when Abrams starts to get his homage confused.  Take the monster, which is hard to go into much detail on except that, yes, it IS a monster-type of alien and not a cuddly wide-eyed kind like ET.  Now Abrams wants to have his cake and eat it too with this thing: it's a creature that's killed people, been making crazy attacks on property and cars and has a strange attachment physically with electronic parts and equipment like car engines and toaster ovens.

It might have been interesting if Abrams had done one of two things: introduce the alien in its whatever flesh sooner so we could get some sympathy for it (it's not a cute alien, but perhaps that would make it more interesting), OR just make it a bad-ass evil beast of an alien.  But because he wants it to be both - a horrifically AAAH! alien ala Cloverfield Monster AND the kind of 'awe' alien that asks for sympathy (mostly based on the premise of ONE SCIENTIST seen at one point on a video the kids watch from a top-secret film bin) - it gets confused and doesn't work.

This is really mostly a problem in the last act of the film, particularly the ending which is very much a 'really?  REALLY? you went there?' kind of ending.  Up until when the kids really go off on their adventure to find out what's going on with this alien and rescue another friend captured by the creature, it's a fun little movie that has some dramatic (if undercooked) elements of  fathers and their children and the gaping wounds left by past mistakes.  Of course this also feeds into what doesn't work about the last act/ending, how this is resolved between Joe's father and Elle Fanning's character Alice's father.  But the characters are fairly well-drawn, at least the two young leads, who also get some good acting from Fanning and the kid playing Joe, Joel Courtney.  Other supporting people works depending on how much you can take stereotype youngsters like the obnoxious fat friend (the director) or the goofball who loves explosives (Crazy Harry, scuse me, VFX man). 

And as a film geek the sub-plot of a monster movie being made in the midst of a monster movie was clever, up to a point (ironically, I thought Romero did it better a few years back with Diary of the Dead, though I'm in the minority on that).  But aside from the problems with how Abramsberg goes about the alien, there's the director's fetish that is so distracting that it takes away from what he is good at which is (mostly) story and character: lens flare.  Holy shit, what is up with lens flare and this guy?

Seriously, why is there lens flare here?  Someone explain it to me and I got a new Prius to give away.

In Star Trek it too was distracting, but at least it sometimes served a purpose being that they're on a space-ship and there's an operatic atmosphere that lends itself to those blue horizontal lights streaming across the screen.  Here it just didn't work, at all, and it got to the point where, and this is not hyperbole, the lens flare had it's own lens flare!  Sometimes it would pop up where you'd least expect... like a dark room.  Other times it would just sneak in like your obnoxious friend that wants you to try the new beer over by the bar.  I could go on about how much it hurts the movie, though it's the kind of hurt that's spread out little by little, not in any large chunks, but the effect is noticeable unless, you know, you just don't notice it I guess.

Super 8 has moments of an entertaining throwback to the kids movies of that Abrams grew up with and then by proxy the kids movies Spielberg grew up with.  As a hokey little matinee movie it doesn't do too bad in setting up its players, getting an overblown by wildly creative first turning point (as one might say in screenwriting) going with the train crash, and some of the main performances work fine.  There's even an end-credits "mini-movie" of what the kids finished product is that may be the best part of the whole film(?!)  But the flaws inherent in the script and in part the execution - I cannot stress how awful the ending is - make it less than really fantastic, which is what the expectations were going in (at least by the successfully manipulative trailer made it out to be).

Chandler's reaction to the end of the script

It's admirable as a personal project for the filmmaker, but... maybe so personal that it became a little muddled, like if the guy from the film/photo store who is no less a 1979 stoner than one might expect, had overseen the rewrites.  From a first time director it might be a big surprise.  From Abrams, it's kind of disappointing.

Best-Worst movie critic? Mayor Ed Koch(?!)

Yes, you don't need to adjust your brain.  The former mayor of New York city and sometimes political commentator and TV show host now has a new gig: Film Critic.

Next gig: GODZILLA!!  RUN!!

Now, you may be asking yourselves, how can the Honorable Mayor Edward I. Koch review movies?  Isn't he like 100 years old?  Well, maybe closer to 86 going on 87.  And secondly... I'm not sure how he reviews things.  He's like how you might picture an old guy reviewing movies, only worse.  And this isn't a put-on or the kind of brilliant one-of-a-kind thing Mike Stoklasa does with his Harry Plinkett character.  No, this is just genuine op-eds on video.... and it's the most what the FUCK deal I've seen on the internet so far.

Indeed I may be just slightly worried for his health at present since he actually hasn't reviewed anything in the past few months (his most recent review being Limitless from back in March).  But before that he's reviewed consistently for the past several months, going back to last summer with films like Inception and Salt, all told there's about 107 reviews on his YOUTUBE PAGE.  And... oh geez it's just not good.

But there may be some humor for those who want to watch it in the unintentional way.  It's like the anti-masterpiece of film criticism, where you get some rambling but in slow-motion about what you're going to see (or not), and at the end he'll give it a + or a - simple as that.  And sometimes his reviews like for Inception ("It's hype, hype hype," he says, not too far off actually) will just cut off before it seems like it's finished.  Or with a review like Carlos, where one gets more of an idea about his going out to a very nice dinner *after* walking out of the movie than the actual film itself.  Oh, and that Carlos was just a Palestinian terrorist and not much else.  Oh, also, he gives it a + without seeing the rest of the movie after walking out(!)  Um....

Here, let's check out a few just so it sinks in:

Perhaps it's all just the ramblings of an old man who we shouldn't bother listening to.  Perhaps this man actually has 'the answer' if one listens just closely enough like that Maharishii fellow.  Perhaps it's just a testament to the 1st amendment and the power of Fair Use on Youtube.... or it's a slow-moving train wreck, an explosion via dementia.

I don't know how to explain it, and yet a part of me (the one not cringing and/or laughing hysterically) applauds Koch for his effort.  Sure he might've put New York into the shitter back in the 80's (one kinda nasty comment on the full Youtube page says "Good job on the AIDS epidemic), and sure he's now kind of a douchebag when it comes to his political ideology.  But man can he review a movie!  Pauline Kael, eat your heart out!

A couple more just to illustrate the point, of the kind of old-idiot-savant genius on display here that just stuns me to no end: and check out the FULL YOUTUBE RIGHT HERE HOLY SHIT HE REALLY HAS 107 REVIEWS IN CAPS!

oral sex?

Catherine Deneuve?

Oscar predictions (and Annette Bening did a great job as a lesbian!)?

and last but not least.... um....not bad?

ADDENDUM: His review of A Film Unfinished is unironically great to watch.