Friday, May 13, 2005

Movies opening this week

In the Realms of the Unreal (documentary, dir. Jessica Yu)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Not that I'm complaining about smaller movies making it to Vegas (I was kind of lukewarm on this one, but whatever), but sometimes I wonder about the logic of releasing a movie such as this, which has the look of a well-made PBS special (not surprisingly, it will air on PBS's POV in August) in theaters barely a month before it hits video. Who's paying nine bucks to see this on a big screen? Someone is, I guess, but it seems like an odd move to me. Opened limited Dec. 22; in Las Vegas this week

Mindhunters (Kathryn Morris, Jonny Lee Miller, LL Cool J, dir. Renny Harlin)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Like pretty much every Harlin film, this is getting torn apart by critics. It did sit on the shelf at Miramax for over two years, and is probably only getting released now because of the housecleaning that's going on with the departure of the Weinsteins. But dammit, Harlin deserves better. The art of crafting an awesomely trashy movie is not widespread in Hollywood anymore; most trashy movies are just trash. And plenty of Harlin's movies are that, too, it's just that when he actually pulls something fun and entertaining out of his ass (like this one, or Deep Blue Sea), most critics are too biased to realize it. Wide release

Monster-in-Law (Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, dir. Robert Luketic)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Things like this make me wonder: A friend of mine requested that I take him and his girlfriend to the screening of this film, because the girlfriend really wanted to see it. So, good friend that I am, I brought them along to what I expected would be a terrible movie (and it was). My friend hated it. His girlfriend, however, had a great time. The audience, too, laughed uproariously at nearly every joke. At another screening the next day, I overheard the theater's promotions manager telling some people about how he had just seen Monster-in-Law, and how much he loved it. He specifically went on and on about how great the joke about the size of J. Lo's butt was. Now, I'd really like to believe that the average movie-goer is not this dumb or tasteless. I don't want to become one of those elitist critics who look down on the unwashed masses and their inability to appreciate Czech art movies or whatever. In particular, I'd like to think that my friend's girlfriend doesn't have hopelessly horrible taste in movies (sadly, though, that's not true; her taste is appalling).

Apparently my friend and his girlfriend had a long discussion after seeing the movie, in which she defended her enjoyment of the movie by bringing up the alleged gender divide in movie appreciation. She likes these crappy romantic comedies, she argues, while guys like crappy action movies. And I really hate this argument. Because liking crappy action movies is just as bad as liking crappy romantic comedies. They're both evidence of poor taste, and Hollywood just loves the idea that there's this impenetrable gender divide that allows them to make different types of crappy movies that people will defend on some bullshit idea of gender identification. Liking crappy movies is lame, whether you're male or female. Excusing your taste by essentially saying, "Well, all men/women like these kinds of crappy movies" is even worse. The opposite is true, too, of course; hating all romantic comedies because they're "too girly" or all action movies because they're "too macho" is ridiculous. There are some really charming, well-written, funny romantic comedies with solid character development. Robert Luketic has even directed two of them (Legally Blonde and the underrated Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!). And of course there are exciting, well-written action movies with solid character development, too, although sadly I can't think of too many recent ones. Using stereotypes to excuse poor taste is sad, and exactly what big studios want you to do. But I can't erase all the people in the theater who laughed during this movie (including that incredibly annoying promotions guy, who's a man, so he has no stereotype excuse). And that makes me sad. Wide release

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the ridiculous excuses people use for liking or not liking movies. I've got friends who always respond to my criticism of certain movies with shit like, "Oh, you just didn't like it because it was a 'chick flick,'" or, "Oh, you just liked it because it was a 'guy movie.'"

I always point out that I like movies in all genres, be they 'chick flicks' or 'guy movies' or whatever, but this never seems to satisfy people. Maybe some sociologist/psychologist has a theory about why, but I think it's fucking irritating as hell while I live it.

I do wonder if it really says something about us as Americans or humans that we're so lame we can't even figure out which movies we like based on relevant criteria. The only thing I can do is continue to point out to my friends (guy or girl) that their comments are essentially sexist and reflect a profound misunderstanding of both taste in cinema and broader social interactions.