2012

Apparently, if the apocalypse arrives, Amanda Peet will survive.  While this is good news for any warm-blooded male who also survives, it does seem a bit improbable.  However, 2012 establishes early that it isn’t overly concerned with probabilities, including as it does the melting of the Earth’s crust, the reversal of the Earth’s polarity and the near-complete annihilation of mankind by natural forces… three years from now.

This Is It

As a work of art, This Is It isn’t all that.  There’s no cinematography to speak of—just a couple of cameramen running around with videocameras.  No lighting—except for the million or so watts from the stage lights.  No conscious aesthetic choices—unless you consider the naturalistic, handheld look to be more than necessity. It isn’t edited with innovation or novelty—director Kenny Ortega, who had been directing the concert, organizes footage for each number into self-contained packages strung one after the other.

Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost used to be an American television series for children, airing for three seasons between 1974 and 1976.  The show featured a park ranger and his two children as they explored a parallel world filled with anachronistic dinosaurs, cavemen, obelisks and time portals.  It is now, according to the immutable laws of Hollywood, a massive motion picture that cost nine billion Jamaican dollars to make (that’s the actual budget), and casts Will Ferrell as the intrepid explorer, Rick Marshall.

Law Abiding Citizen

By the time the title flashes on the screen, fractured white letters on a black rectangle, we’ve already witnessed a robbery, an attempted rape and two murders.  Then again, in thrillers like Law Abiding Citizen, unpredictable in thoroughly predictable ways, you expect that kind of trick.  But for the handful of you who still believe in the Easter bunny, let’s make it clear—many, many, many laws are broken in this movie.

Surrogates

This is how it usually works in America—little movies have big ideas, and big movies have little ideas.  For little movies with big ideas, think Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape (1989) or Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000) or Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000), respectively tackling voyeurism, addiction and memory.  For big movies with little ideas, consider Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Twelve (2002) or Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006) or Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005).

Fame

When Alan Parker directed Fame in 1980, he had already spent twenty years writing ad copy, then television commercials, then directing them, then writing movies, then directing them.  His confidence and experience is evident throughout the musical—in the brevity and playfulness of the opening audition sequence; the way the performance pieces double as character development; the presentation of New York as a city of yellow taxicabs and neon red signs, subway stations and high-rise apartments, artists and con artists.

Inglourious Basterds

Amongst people who do not know the director of Caged Heat (1974), the music from Across 110th Street (1972), or the length of the final car chase in the original Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)—which is to say, almost everyone— watching a Quentin Tarantino movie is like listening to classical music: pleasant in a vague, try-anything-once sort of way, but mostly a reminder of how ignorant and uncultured you are.

I Can Do Bad All By Myself

On September 14, Tyler Perry turned 40—that age when a man starts to look at his life in both directions: back, to see what he has accomplished; and forward, to see what he still can.  Twenty-five years ago, Perry was a high school dropout living in his car.  Now, he’s one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood, banking US$75 million since last year.  And it’s all thanks to an old woman named Madea.

Julie & Julia

Today, we’re going to learn how to make a successful Nora Ephron movie.

First, you will need to find, adapt or invent two people who are superficially opposites, and separated by a difficult-to-overcome barrier—attitudes (on relationships, When Harry Met Sally, 1989) or distance (a continental delta, Sleepless in Seattle, 1993) or a medium (the Internet, You’ve Got Mail, 1998) or time (fifty years in her new film, Julie & Julia).

The Time Traveler’s Wife

It may have taken NASA until 1969 to put men on the moon, but moviegoers had been travelling there since 1902, thanks to Georges Melies’ Le Voyage dans la Lune.  To modern eyes, the footage looks like cardboard and plaster, but contemporary audiences sat in rapture, enthralled by its otherworldliness.  Most of us cannot afford to leave Jamaica’s shores, but for six hundred dollars, we can travel around the world (this week’s destinations include Venezuela (Up) and South Africa (District 9)).