Sunday, February 11, 2018

Yet more unwanted movie reviews

*   Rushmore:  even though I have been underwhelmed by Wes Anderson's last couple of movies, I thought I would see what his shtick was like when it was new, back in 1998.   The verdict:  yeah, it was pretty amusing and likeable.   The story's eccentric in a way that made me think parts of it were probably autobiographical, and I read afterwards that my hunch was right: 
Rushmore Academy was where Wes Anderson went to school. Well, not exactly – it was called St John's School, and it was only after he scoured private schools as far as the UK that he realised his alma mater was the perfect setting for his semi-autobiographical movie about a precocious turd who forms extracurricular clubs and falls head over heels for a hot school teacher. In a very Anderson-y way, he banked his private school experience for Rushmore. Like Rushmore's main skeeze Max Fisher, Anderson, too, was academically underachieving and had a throbbing crush on an older woman.
Certainly, no other movie before or since is likely to feature the word "handjob" quite so often.   Recommended.

*  The not fully viewed Tropic Thunder:   Last night I tried getting past the first 20 minutes of this awful thing, and just couldn't.   I cannot fathom the good reviews it largely received.   First, it seems weird that a 2008 movie would be bothered mocking the overly dramatic Vietnam war movies such as Platoon which were big 20 years previously.  Had the screenplay been rattling around unmade since 1990, because it felt awfully dated?   Movie-within-movie satires are a delicate thing - if you push the ridicule too hard (such as this movie does, in spades), it just doesn't work in any way.  (I'll allow it might work as a absurdist 3 minute piece in sketch comedy, but that's it.)   A bunch of actors who have been funny in other movies (and Tom Cruise, who critics seemed to think was hilarious in this) cannot save it as far as I'm concerned.   Gives me all the more reason to never trust vehicles Matthew McConaughey is in, and I'll add that when Ben Stiller makes and awful movie, they really, truly stink.  I think his hit rate of good movies is actually pretty low.

Vanilla Sky (2001, Tom Cruise version.)    Giving up on Cruise's over the top act in Tropic Thunder, I switched over to see him in this.   I' hadn't seen the Spanish original, which no doubt helps.  (I seem to recall that quite a few art house type critics, such as David Stratton, resented this film as being an unnecessary remake.)

I thought it was pretty great - well directed,  really good acting by all concerned, Penelope Cruz at what may have been her peak of youthful charm and beauty, and a story that finally made some relatively straight forward science fiction-y sense.  (Although it is one of those films open to other interpretations.)    

Two surprises which, if I had known, would have made me watch it earlier:   a brief cameo by Steven Spielberg (yay), and the incredibly magnetic Tilda Swinton turns up at the end too.    They are like the exact opposite of McConaughey - lucky charms indicating that a movie is probably well worth watching.   (The negative power of McConaughey is something even Spielberg struggles to overcome - Amistad was an  interesting story that nonetheless is one of Spielberg's least memorable movies.)  

I had what seemed a lengthy dream last night in which I had inherited the Courier Mail, and kept trying to work out who to consult to learn how to run a newspaper.  It was not an unpleasant dream, though, and clearly came to me a result of Vanilla Sky.


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