Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Things I've Seen

I really need to start writing these as I watch them, but what can you do? I mean, besides be more timely. Anyway:

Seven Psychopaths (2012)
One thing is for sure - whoever markets Martin McDonagh's movies cannot grasp how to make them look good.  Seven Psychopaths has the same problem as McDonagh's best-known film In Bruges: barring the juicy dialogue, it looks like yet another terrible post-Pulp Fiction Tarantino clone although if a movie came close to that precipice without falling over, it's Seven Psychopaths.

Overall I liked In Bruges better than Seven Psychopaths, although I liked how Seven Psychopaths throws a curveball at the audience. It's as if Adaptation had an affair with a superiorly written, grungy crime thriller and spawned a film that's as much about storytelling as it is about blurring the lines between reality and the actual story being told. In fact, Colin Farrell plays Martin McDonagh (or perhaps a stand-in for Martin McDonagh. Here it already gets fairly meta) trying to come up with his next screenplay, all the while getting involved with dognappers, killers, and, yeah, even a few psychopaths. If anything, it keeps you on your toes and is way more fun than that description implies.

The three main actors, Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken in one of his best roles in years, are able to run with this writing in pretty amazing ways.  Woody Harrelson is hilarious as a dog-obsessed mob boss, and even Tom Waits makes an appearance with a story of his own and a pretty great punchline. All in all, it is WAY better than the trailer makes it out to be, and it ends up being a lot more original and soulful than you would expect without getting too insider-basebally with the Hollywood screenwriting business of being in love with pithy dialogue and an original story.

Sleepwalk With Me (2012)
I should start by saying that I am in awe of stand-up comics. I know a lot of people would disagree with me here, some of whom write for this blog, but I feel like being a stand-up comic takes a very special set of skills. Maybe I am in awe because I feel like it's something I could never do. Maybe I am in awe because a stand-up comic lives and dies alone up there. They have to deal with the audience's reception all on their own and try to rework bits as they go along. I guess it's why I am even more fascinated by movies about stand-up comics, like Funny People or the documentary, Comedian.

Sleepwalk With Me, Mike Birbiglia's comedy produced by Ira Glass, is about how a stand-up comic finds his voice, and what he gains and sacrifices to do it. People often forget that waaay before you become a Louis CK or a Chris Rock you have to travel around, solo usually, to shitty, small gigs, to college kids and drunks that DO NOT CARE about you. And you hopefully survive and figure out who you are and then things get rolling.  Or you don't and you find something else to do to make a living. That's what this movie is about, those anxieties that come along with making it as a comic. It's Mike Birbiglia, so right off the bat it's very well written, equally funny and sad, but the test is whether or not you accept it as an art form.  In the end, I really enjoyed how it makes the art form of comedy look as frustrating as it seems without ever trying it ourselves.

Children of the Corn (1984)

Yeah, I know. I can't believe I'd never seen this before either. This is one of those lessons in the vast difference between reality and how marketing affects what gets into your 8 year old mind. As an adult who loves horror movies now, growing up I was a HUGE scaredy cat who could hardly make it through the night in the dark which prompted my to censor horror movies that are now on my all-time favorite list.  Back then one of my great thrills was to venture to the Horror section of a video store and look at the rows and rows of VHS boxes. I would look at the art and, if you remember, they would sometimes show a picture of a scene or two on the back. So there were a great many horror movies that I had built up in my head as being the scariest movies ever based solely on the packaging.
Then, of course, you grow up and you realize that it's all just bullshit.

Two cases in point just this week:  last night I watched the original Friday The 13th. I had seen it before, but watching as an adult I can't believe how scared that VHS box used to make me.

And the same was true when I finally caught Children Of The Corn on Netflix Instant this week.  Originally a Stephen King short story, it was all of about five pages long, a succinct and creepy story about kids who form a weird reverese biblical cult and kill all the adults in town.  Little known fact - King tried to adapt it into a full-length feature film but was passed up.  The thing is, there is a kernel of something interesting and scary here, but it all flies out the window in an ejector seat through a rich tapestry of BAD - bad acting, bad kid actors, and bad special effects. If anything, this movie was laughable. In one scene Peter Horton fights off some kids(!) and turns to run away and for no reason runs into a lamp post like he was Shemp or something.  This could easily be ripe for a remake, but could they do that now after, what, seven sequels?  (Seven sequels - Why!?)

Creepy killer kids, abandoned Midwest town, something lurking in the corn - a missed opportunity here, if only Stephen King adapted it to begin with.



  1. i can't account for adults at the time, but watching children of the corn when i was a kid was absolutely terrifying

  2. Man, I really waited too long to watch this movie! Watch it again and cleanse those childhood demons.