lumpenscholar trapped in the tubular cinema

recently had the opportunity to see a number of movies on video, and since that lovely lass Mad Minerva has been my cinema guide all summer, thought i would post responses to her reviews and some assorted (or sordid) comments — after all, two of my movie selections were all her fault

haven’t seen these movies? then if you’re lucky, there aren’t any spoilers ahead. me, I’ve lost track. maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. so, what you gotta ask yourself, cinemaphile, is do I feel lucky? well, do ya, cinemaphile?

where to start?

IRON MAN! great movie. i heartily concur with much of MM’s reviews (and her sibling’s): great geeky fun and just plain funny, great special effects, feminine females, masculine males, AND intelligence, courage, and wit from all genders and sides; even the bad guys aren’t stupid or cowardly, which is nice

as she mentions, this movie could easily be taken as a criticism of the military-industrial bugaboo we’ve grown so tired of seeing slammed into the soil cinematically. Stark’s redemption is turning against the military industrial complex, and the ultimate bad guy Iron Man faces off against is a greedy capitalist white male eager to sell weapons to the enemy if it turns a profit. also, it seems our GCWM set up the ambush, so it wasn’t the insurgents’ fault, per se; capitalism did it. on the other hand, Stark’s decision to take the fight personally, to armor up, defend our own, and kill the enemy himself, was as good an endorsement of going out and enlisting to fight the terrorists as I’ve seen on celluloid, outside of actual recruiting video, and the insurgents are nasty and we’re glad to see them killed and the Afghan civilians saved.

i wasn’t as critical of the military aspects as MM’s friend: airmen do go out with the army on the ground as forward observers (someone has to talk to the fighter jocks giving close air support) and commo types, but not generally as drivers I think; one criticism in the ambush scene, why stop when the lead humvee is blown up? last I heard, humvee’s were ATVs, right? but this is all lead in. the thing I was most disappointed in on the military side was the failure of Lt. Col. Rhodes to clearly articulate why developing better weapons for the US military is a good thing

check out the fan art — cool stuff there, though sadly none seem to feature ms. potts in her silly footwear, a great loss for all the male fans. one laugh-out-loud line MM didn’t quote: “Sometimes I even take out the trash.” politics aside, i’ve got to see this again, preferably on the big screen this time — is it still playing? it’s just a lot of fun, and that’s what hollywood should deliver first and foremost, imho.

next up? Kung Fu Panda! yeah, you’ve seen the plot a million times. but that’s not the point in this kind of movie; it’s how you get from A to dragon warrior that counts, and this movie had me laughing out loud and cheering for a fat panda — and even tho’ i kno’ MM will never ever visit my site again for saying this, i am not a big panda fan, so that’s a good endorsement, i think; i’m not just cheering cuz of the cute hero.  it also had one of the best takes on hero enlightenment i’ve seen, i think. loved it; want to see it again.

bit of a side note, i’m getting tired of plot twists. it’s SO friggin’ predictable that there’ll be a plot twist that i don’t even notice it anymore. like Stane being the bad guy in Iron Man. bald, smooth-talking white capitalist, close friend of the hero — gotta be the evil mastermind behind it all, no other choice, unless you want to be called boring and predictable like Kung Fu Panda, right?

anyway, for real reviews, read MM.

on to non-MM-reviewed flicks. not that these will be reviews, either. but thought I should mention them.

The Visitor. basically, lonely widower meets a wonderful couple who just happen to be illegal aliens. they show him a new world and show him a way to recover from his grief, but the husband is caught and sent to detention for deportation. fine and good; i wish there had been two stories. this one, and another where an illegal immigrant murders an american couple for their car. that said, i liked it. richard jenkins does a great job playing prof. walter vale; i am right there with him on the drums. the rest of the cast was good, the plot believable, though I have to admit, for various reasons, I did not get to watch the last 15 minutes or so, so there may be a bizarre plot twist where we find out the bald white capitalist set it all up. i would watch it again to see that last 15 minutes, but would probably pass on a third sitting

Smart People. hate to say it. another way-left movie that i actually liked. basically, another widower / college prof movie. he has to deal with his teenage daughter (who’s rebelling by being in the young republicans, which gets treated as seriously as any teenage rebellion — she’ll grow out of it, we assume), a stoner brother (who won’t grow out of it, but that’s okay, we assume), a flagging academic career, and (simultaneously) a new love interest and his grief for his deceased wife. strangely, even though i’m not in any of those situations, i felt a lot of sympathy for chuck wetherhold, our erstwhile hero, and thomas haden church did a good job playing him. wouldn’t see it again unless a friend really wanted to see it and i had to get away from the books for a couple of hours. or there was free food and drinks.

luckily for my readers, that’s all the movies i’ve seen over the summer.

8 comments so far

  1. Mad Minerva on

    Hey, thanks for the shout-out!

    Also on “Iron Man”: “the thing I was most disappointed in on the military side was the failure of Lt. Col. Rhodes to clearly articulate why developing better weapons for the US military is a good thing.” Absolutely! I kept waiting for Rhodey to say something, but he never did — in fact, the words I wanted to hear from a sincere Rhodey ended up coming from a disingenuous Stane, which was just not cool.

    Anyhoo, go see “Tropic Thunder” to see Hollywood take a few well-deserved potshots.

  2. lumpenscholar on

    Love your reviews. You should think about taking it up as a side job, if you haven’t already.

    I try not to think too much about the whole military-industrial complex angle of the movie. Thinking too much about the politics of the plot ruined The Last Samurai for me, and Iron Man is too much fun not to like.

  3. Mad Minerva on

    Glad you liked the reviews! I do like writing for friends so we can then sit around (virtually if necessary) and yak about flicks.

    “Iron Man” wears its “angle” lightly, so that’s definitely in its favor. Plus it portrays the US military as basically good and decent guys (Rhodey especially), and that’ll get a big “yay!” from me after the endless drone of anti-US, anti-military flicks from the Hollywood left fringe. Plus the whole idea of Stark going out to kick terrorist butt is just awesome — and more than counterbalances the flick’s muddled message for me.

    Re “The Last Samurai” — There were plenty of things wrong with it, but I really liked it for Ken Watanabe, whom I thought was just great, not only saving the flick but flat-out stealing it from Tom “Dances with Wolves Wannabe” Cruise.

  4. lumpenscholar on

    Agreed on Iron Man.

    Don’t get me started on Last Samurai unless you enjoy watching a good tornado. Watanabe was a class act in that movie, however, as was Koyuki Kato, the female lead, despite the role she was forced to play. Me, I was hoping she’d do the real samurai thing and slit Algren’s throat, then commit seppuku. But no … (swallows rant). On the other hand, I did really enjoy the cinematography.

  5. Mad Minerva on

    Plus Hiroyuki Sanada was darn good, also giving the audience a vicarious thrill by beating the tar out of Algren more than a coupla times!

    Oh, and then there’s this:

    All the really decent acting was on the Japanese side; the Cine-Sib thought the “Japanese Legolas” was just the coolest. Now that’s some serious manly guy-praise.

  6. lumpenscholar on

    That link was just too funny. Thanks!

    “Japanese Legolas”? It’s been years since I saw the movie, and I’m drawing a blank.

  7. Mad Minerva on

    Katsumoto’s son, who was an archer.

  8. lumpenscholar on

    Thanks. Afraid I still don’t really remember him, though.

    One of these days I’ve sworn to watch the movie again in reviewer mode and do a full-on academic-style deconstruction, just for fun. At this point, though, that looks like it’ll have to wait for a bored day next summer (and I’ve been saying this for how many summers now?).

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