Archive for the TV/Movies Category

“Families are like potatoes. The best parts are underground…” – Bacon

Posted in TV/Movies on February 10, 2008 by Eugene

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I can’t recommend “Little Miss Sunshine” thoroughly enough.

The Hoover family from Alberquerque is a dysfunctional one, but they are lovingly united by their neuroses.

Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) plays the motivational speaker and head of the family, but his 9 step program to success is a failure. His wife Sheryl, played by the very androgynous Toni Colette, struggles with cigarettes as she holds the family together. Richard’s heroin-snorting father (Alan Arkin) has been kicked out of a nursing home and is spending most of his time coaching seven-year old Olive (Abigail Breslin) on her dance act for the upcoming Little Miss Sunshine pageant. The dance is the funniest I’ve ever seen.

The comedy of misproportions gets better when Sheryl takes in her gay brother Frank (Steve Carell, whose deadpan sarcasm trounces Bill Murray’s), a Marcel Proust scholar and university professor who has just recovered from a botched suicide attempt after losing his lover to another professor. He is given a cot in teenager Dwayne’s bedroom (Paul Dano). Dwayne has taken a vow of silence and dreams of escaping home by joining the Air Force, and he spends his time reading Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Directors Jonathan Daydon and Valerie Faris have thrown this rag-tag jumble of characters on a road trip to Redondo Suites where Olive’s pageant is held. What happens thereafter is pure lunacy.

Kudos to the directors/screenplay writers who have wrought a very poignant chemistry amongst this ensemble cast. There’s a very comfortable moral of how happiness can be found even in failure and that if you cannot get rid of your family skeletons, you might as well make them dance.

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The Josh Hartnett Horror Show

Posted in TV/Movies on December 2, 2007 by Eugene

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Granted, Josh Hartnett is as stiff as that other wooden board Keanu Reeves, but even he should not be saddled with the entire blame of the dismal boredom that is 30 Days of Night.

I was enthusiastic about this Alaskan blood fest, especially after 30 days of Night had been glowingly compared to Neil Marshall’s “The Descent”, a chilling portrayal of a woman’s debilitating breakdown. I especially noted the numinous rollcall (David Slade “Hard Candy”, Sam Raimi “Spiderman” fame) but their latest offering has all the uncharacteristic hallmarks of a pension-work.

Some unforgivable lapses in the show:

1. It’s hard to enjoy horror when your lead Vampire looks exactly like Sam Allardyce, the manager of Newcastle FC, on a losing streak.

2. It’s also hard to enjoy horror when the other vampires, while savagely entertaining at first, begin to demonstrate the same stale grimaces, postures and hissy-fits after a while. Like warmed-up cabbage served at each repast, the repetition kills the wretch at last.

3. Your other characters are inert extras for the rest of the show, largely mumbling inconsequential one-liners like “No!”, “What?”, “What do we do now?” The viewer is stunned by the profundity of their thoughts.

4. Not related to the show: The woman sitting next to you screams each time a vampire appears.

The litany of sins for “30 nights” is too long, and I was thoroughly disappointed with it. To be avoided scrupulously… Now for real (Western) horror, may I suggest a disturbing cocktail of reading Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea, followed by a close watching of Neil Marshall’s The Descent. Then let madness reign…

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Harvard’s Best Graduate…

Posted in TV/Movies on November 11, 2007 by Eugene

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It’s March 1945 on my PC screen. One of my favourite moments in the excellently produced Band of Brothers comes when PFC David Webster, seeing a surrendering column of German Troops on foot and on horses, suddenly loses control and hurls invectives at this outlandish motley-crew.

Webster, being an English Literature graduate from Harvard, is probably the most eloquent of the grizzled, war-deadened lot and probably speaks for the rest of the men. It’s a real tragicomic moment, reproduced in full below, and had me laughing in stitches:

Webster [at passing column of German prisoners]: “Hey, you! That’s right, you stupid Kraut bastards. That’s right. Say hello to Ford, and General fuckin’ Motors! You stupid fascist pigs. Look at you! You have horses!

[Soldier pulls Webster down]: That’s enough, Webster!

Webster [rising again to his feet, indignant]:

What were you thinking? Dragging our asses half way around the world, interrupting our lives. For what? You ignorant, servile scum. What the fuck are we doing here?