Monday, August 20, 2007

FILM Superbad is Super…boring

God bless everyone who loves the high school "quest to lose your virginity" movies. It's never really been my genre, despite the fact that I should identify with the nerd heroes of these films based on my own high school experience. But I don't. My gang didn't care about the parties where the jocks and the "popular kids" congregated because we were too busy making our own fun, while the nerds and geeks in the movies need to be recognized in the scope of the larger school environment.

That's all beside the point.

I came into Superbad hearing that it was both over-the-top and endearing, that it showed a lot of love to its nerd protagonists, and that it was maybe a little too long in the middle. I did really enjoy Judd Apatow's The 40 Year-Old Virgin (a high school movie played out with adults), and haven't yet seen Knocked Up but heard good things. Apatow's been doing a lot of press for this film, which he produced but didn't direct, and everybody says it has his stamp on it. Sounded good.

The thing I didn't expect out of Superbad was that it would be so boring.

Here's the plot: three high school nerds need to bring booze to a party where they hope to sleep with the drunken objects of their desires.

Here's the running time: Two hours!

Here's why it's boring: The characters. Namely, the main character of Seth, whose single-minded sex obsession is simply impossible to identify with. Then there's his friend Evan, who is sweet and nice and often fades into the background.

If Seth and Evan live in a world that skews close to the one we live in, their friend Fogell falls through the looking glass into a world that's as unrealistic as a Saturday Night Live skit. It's a pretty funny skit, and that's where most of the laughs come into play, but like on SNL the skit lasts way too long. The two cops who adopt Fogell and for some reason strive to gain his acceptance and have him look up to them, in the world of the other two main characters would be the worst, most corrupt cops in Los Angeles. And that's saying something. But their corruption is nothing but harmless fun.

When it comes right down to it the sweet reality of the boring best friends is diminished by the comedic cop story, while Fogell's funny storyline is diminished by the dull groundedness of the other plot which calls its corruption into question.

Whatever. It's a lowbrow movie of low ambition, and I think that because it exceeds that low ambition by becoming a harmless movie that pretends to offend it succeeds. The movie did really well on its opening weekend, and it'll play even better on video. I recommend that you wait and watch it there.

FILM The Shaky Ultimatum

David Bordwell takes on The Bourne Ultimatum and its overdependence on handheld camerawork in the movie.

Dang, it's a really nice article. If you've seen the movie you know that it's chock full of shaky camera moves and "smash cuts" and propels its story along with energetic filmmaking. I enjoyed the movie, but thought the camerawork was a little much. I thought that it'll work better on the small screen of home television, and that it probably looked fine on the small screens in the editing bay where he was cutting it.

But Bordwell notes how the handheld camera and crazy cutting can cover up a lot in terms of plot and even acting. And, come to think of it, there are some plot holes that just whizzed by (like being able to waltz into the HQ of our government's super-secret black-ops security beaurocracy).

That said, I did like the movie more than Mr. Bordwell, despite all the great points he makes in his article. And thanks to Anne Thompson for pointing me in his direction from her blog.

FILM The return of Harvey Scissorhands

When the Weinstein brothers announced that they were heading to Asia to pick up a new slate of movies, not to mention starting up production out east, I wrote this piece for praising the move.

Harvey Weinstein got the nickname "Harvey Scissorhands" because he would recut foreign films to make them play better in American markets. I think the nickname is a complement, though there are some people out there who think it isn't.

Ultimately, I think it's great that Harvey and Bob are getting back into the acquisitions game after years of floundering with film production (which they'll still attempt) over at Disney-owned Miramax.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

FILM Meeting Marsha Hunt

Here's the third in my San Francisco trilogy. This one is all about meeting the sprightly 89-year-old Marsha Hunt, who started as an actress during the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s. She was the actress in Eddie Muller's short film, and she's still got it!

For, I wrote this piece about her.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

FILM "The Grand Inquisitor"

I was down in San Francisco (actually Alameda, just outside of Oakland) working as Script Supervisor, and then as the Assistant Director, on Eddie Muller's short film. Follow the link and see what I wrote about it for

You should know that Eddie Muller is known as the "Czar of Noir" and that the movie takes, as its starting point, some evidence about a different suspect in the Zodiac murder case and extrapolates from there. Very interesting.

FILM Abbas Kiarostami and the PFA

I was just down in San Francisco, and my friend Jonathan Marlow brought me to the Pacific Film Archives to see part of the Abbas Kiarostami retrospective. I sort of forgot how much I liked his early films, back when he shot on film and before he discovered video. I think there's something about the limitations of film, particularly the temporal limitations, that made his films both philosophical and accessible instead of the more purely philosophical movies he's been making on video since he discovered that medium. Plus, he started out making movies for and about kids, and there's something completely charming about that. His early features are reminiscent of Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Really.

I wrote about my trip HERE for the website