Friday, June 24, 2005

Movies opening this week

Bewitched (Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Michael Caine, dir. Nora Ephron)
I have a serious love for the old Bewitched TV show, which I watched all the time on Nick at Nite when I was a kid. I think Samantha Stephens was a big part of my sexual awakening; I'm writing an essay on her sexual allure for next week's Las Vegas Weekly. I've been watching old episodes of the show on DVD and on TV Land to prepare for the essay, and while the show certainly isn't brilliant and often comes across as dated, it does have a fairly sophisticated wit at times, and a complex take on gender politics in its own way. Not so this movie, which is a blah Ephron romantic comedy dressed up with a few bits of magic and an annoyingly convoluted meta premise. I suppose Ephron deserves credit for trying something other than a straight translation of the TV show, but the show-within-a-movie format only opens up a bunch of plot holes. Kidman and Ferrell (basically playing a slight variation on his Anchorman "arrogant asshole celebrity who gets anything he wants" persona) have less than no chemistry, and Ephron totally misses what made the core relationship on the show work, which was that Darrin and Samantha were married and were partners. As TV adaptations go, it could have been worse (and it's better than Kidman's last "comedy," The Stepford Wives), but it still misses the mark. Wide release

Land of the Dead (Simon Baker, Asia Argento, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, dir. George A. Romero)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I hope I don't get any hate mail on this one like I did on Batman Begins and Revenge of the Sith. Romero fans are another subculture who can be very, um, vocal. And I am definitely a Romero fan, which is why I was so disappointed in how generic and pedestrian this movie is. I love Night of the Living Dead, I love Dawn of the Dead, I like Day of the Dead. I like zombie movies. And as a zombie movie, this is okay. It's got some good gore and a couple of decent scares. But it's totally sterilized, and I think a lot of people are just nostalgic for the (admittedly great) things that Romero used to do when they give this a good review. Wide release


Katie said...

You know, I saw the trailer for Bewitched and I thought it looked hilarious for the first two minutes or so... I thought it was a satire about people in Hollywood, in all seriousness, making a movie about Bewitched. And that just seemed funny. But then it all became clear - it was some silly supernatural-themed comedy. Oh well.

Josh, your Bewitched review amused me. Just because you find Samantha's powers hot doesn't make the show feminist! You could make an argument for postfeminist, though.

Josh said...

I didn't necessarily mean that it was feminist, or post-feminist (I'm not clear enough on the specific distinctions), just that it wasn't anti-feminist, as some people seem to think. I guess making a choice to be a housewife isn't feminist per se, but I definitely don't think Samantha is a pawn of the patriarchy.

Katie said...

Josh, I'll give you more credit. You're right - I don't think Bewitched is anti-feminist, either.