May 18, 2008

Your micro-review roundup: 18 May 2008

(Because I make my way through so many books and movies for CCLaP, I regularly come across projects that are interesting enough unto themselves but that I simply don't have much to say about, or at least not enough to warrant an entire entry. I thought, then, that on occasional weekends I would gather up such "micro-reviews" and post them all in one large entry; they can also be found on CCLaP's main book and main movie archive pages.)

Superbad (movie; 2007)
Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Directed by Greg Mottola

Okay, okay! I finally watched a Judd Apatow movie! Are you f-cking happy now? Or, actually, I was already a big fan of two projects from early in Apatow's career, the cultishly popular (i.e. prematurely cancelled) television shows Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared, and am also a fan of many of the shows in the '90s he wrote scripts for when first starting out (including The Ben Stiller Show, The Critic, and The Larry Sanders Show). It's just, I don't know, ever since tapping into the popular zeitgeist in the early 2000s with the twin hits Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40 Year Old Virgin, Apatow seems to have become a one-man producing machine for the exact type of immature, pandering crap that I always seem to be complaining about from modern Hollywood; he's the guy, after all, who has unleashed upon the world such dreck as Knocked Up, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Kicking & Screaming, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the upcoming You Don't Mess with the Zohan (all within a five-year period too, mind you), a string of poopfests and other human embarrassments that pretty much guarantees him a spot in Hell once he dies.

But all the movies I just mentioned are extremely popular ones, even sometimes among the precise fellow intellectuals I call my friends, making me think that perhaps there's just something I've been missing when it comes to these films, films that to me look on the surface like adolescent wastes of time; and as a matter of fact, the latest from the Apatow Laff Factory just came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago, the teen sex comedy Superbad, starring a young actor named Michael Cera who I'm already a big, big fan of, so I thought I'd finally take a chance and see what all the hype has been about. Sigh...what a mistake that was. Because unfortunately, Superbad is exactly what I was expecting, a cultural nadir that grown-ups by all rights should be ashamed of for even existing; I mean, what else can you say about a movie where even the adults run around constantly calling the female sexual organ a "vag," and who find the sight of menstrual blood on someone's pants the most hilarious thing in the history of formalized humor? If you're an adult and have ever voluntarily paid money to see one of these movies, then congratulations -- you're everything wrong with the United States of America these days, and you have only yourself to blame for Hollywood continuing to assault us with such worthless horsesh-t on a daily basis. Congratulations. Welcome to Hell.

Out of 10: 0.2

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms
Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (movie; 2006)
Written by Mike Mignola, Karen Somers, Tad Stones and Matt Wayne
Directed by Phil Weinstein and Tad Stones

I admit it, that I have been a cultish fanboy of Mike Mignola's Hellboy comic book for quite awhile now, and am an equal fan of the 2004 movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. (And ooh, I can't wait for the sequel either, coming out later this summer.) So on the surface, it seemed like there would be nothing but good things to look forward to from the authorized full-length animated specials of Hellboy that came in the wake of the original movie's success; the entire series, after all, is being closely monitored by both Mignola and del Toro, and even features Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doug Jones in the parts they originated in the live-action version. So why then, for the love of all that is good, was the decision made to illustrate this series in the same cheap style of a Saturday-morning Korean children's show? With all of these people from the original projects so heavily involved, how could a decision like this possibly have seemed like a good one?

Comic Book Hellboy versus Hellboy Animated

See, I'm a huge fan of the striking and unique visual look Mignola created for the original Hellboy comic book (seen in the top image above), and was highly looking forward to seeing how they were going to translate that into an animated format; so to pop in the DVD of the first movie in the series, Sword of Storms, and be confronted with that bottom image you see above, needless to say was a disappointment, and after a half-hour made me not only stop the movie but delete the rest of the series from my Netflix queue list. A real letdown, to tell you the truth, and a real head-scratcher as well, given that the people responsible for Hellboy's original look and feel obviously gave the thumbs-up to this cheap, tacky-looking animated version. Buyer beware.

Out of 10: 5.5

The Saddest Music in the World
The Saddest Music in the World (movie; 2003)
Written by Guy Maddin and George Toles, from an original script by Kazuo Ishiguro
Directed by Guy Maddin

Oh, Guy Maddin, how I love you so! Or, I guess it's more that I love the concept of Guy Maddin more than Maddin himself, given that his 2003 film The Saddest Music in the World became this week the very first movie of his I've actually seen; I just love the idea of this freaky little Canadian weirdo running around making these barely comprehensible antique-looking films, that nonetheless manage to drum up millions of dollars of investment money along with such Hollywood stars as Isabella Rossellini. But man, I'm telling you right now, Maddin's films are things more to be inhaled and experienced than simply watched and understood; take the one under review today, for example, with the exact camera styles, lights and special effects of the Silent Era but featuring a very contemporary postmodern script, concerning a worldwide contest sponsored by a beer baronness in Winnipeg during the Great Depression to find the "saddest musician on the planet," as a way of promoting their Canadian brewery during American Prohibition times. Be warned, this movie will make you screw up your eyes and twist your head like a confused dog on a regular basis; but it will also make you laugh, charm the pants off you, and somehow or another leave you wanting more by the end, as unbelievable as that sounds. Plus, I have to admit, the film contains one of the best lines of dialogue I've heard in a long time: "If you're sad...and you like beer...I'm your woman!"

Out of 10: 7.5

Filed by Jason Pettus at 4:51 PM, May 18, 2008. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |