Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing on the Feast of St. Stephen

It's been another slow month.

I haven't gotten out to see a movie all month and my home viewing was pretty minimal until this past week.

First, TV Club.

I watched every Colbert and Stewart episode for the first two weeks of December. Always entertaining, I'm still not sure that the time spent watching it is worth it any more than watching "real" news is worth it.

I tried getting into Arrow as a Smallville replacement. It's got the right ridiculous soap operatic attitude, but is lacking a big something. It's got no Wall of Weird. I gave up after two episodes.

Robin Hood continues to entertain. We watched the episode "Christmas Goose" last night, in which Friar Tuck defends a goose in court and Robin tricks a noble into mercy by fake beating a boy to death. Really great, as usual.

And I watched the "Gift" episode of Big Bang Theory that Ben tweet-recommended to me. The first twenty minutes or so, I started getting angry at Ben because the jokes weren't funny, the story wasn't interesting, and the canned laugh track was really irritating me. The last couple of minutes, though, redeemed the whole episode, revealing that all of those little unfunny jokes were elaborate scaffolding in an episode-long joke with a fantastic punchline. I laughed out loud.

Doc Club

I watched two documentaries this month. I fell asleep halfway through Little Dieter Needs to Fly. I need to return to that one.

The other doc was Collision, a documentary about Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens on a debate tour. It gets my highest recommendation. Pending further viewings, Five Stars. My favorite moment is when the two men can't stop giggling as they trade Wodehouse quotes. I'll write more if I watch it again sometime soon.

And finally, narrative features. I've watched a few.

The Campaign is stupid. I laughed exactly two times, when the baby was punched and when the dog was punched. Otherwise, there's nothing worthwhile here. There's no insight on the political process. It's message of "tell the truth" is undermined by its goofiness. Movies like this help to maintain the status quo, as people laugh at it all and throw their hands up in the air. Not once does this film tell the truth.

Premium Rush was such a joy to watch. It reminded me of a cross between the best 80s action comedies and 80s sports triumph movies. Everyone in it is great, but Michael Shannon is over-the-top perfect in his commitment to his role. The movie's irresponsible follow-your-death-wish-talents-dream is as charming as it is unrealistic. But if you're watching Premium Rush for its realism, then you've already lost the race.

Men in Black III is the best time travel movie of the year (even if Looper is cooler and SNG is more emotionally satisfying). It's a lot of fun. The time travel is silly and stupid in a BttF kind of way. Also, Josh Brolin is perfect as a young Tommy Lee Jones.

Finally, A Single Man. I watched this one because both of the Howards ranked it high on their 30 Aughts lists. I respect the film. It is mostly successful as a study in grief and as a snapshot of a specific time and place. But I also think that the film undercuts its own power by the frequent use of flashbacks and short dream sequences. These moments are meant to reinforce the loss and strengthen our union with the primary character's perspective. They did the opposite for me, pulling me out of the narrative and weakening the cohesion of the whole, revealing the primary plot as rather thin. I was also put off a bit by the Ganymedan rescue at the end, when a naked young lad convinces this man that life is worth living. I guess this sort of thing may happen (whatever the sex involved), but it does lessen the impact of the grief that has been developed when all it takes is one flirtatious night to convince that all is right with the world.

I'm sure I'll watch some TCM while on LI. So, all y'all will get at least one more post before the CR5FC Year in Review festivities begin.

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