Sunday, July 23, 2006

nothing to see here

An informal poll has confirmed my recent suspicions: this has been a horrible summer for movies. Nothing seems to work and everything with a veneer of quickly peels in this triple-digit heatwave. What does it tell you when the most-talked about movie of the summer stars Al Gore? (Other than humankind is altering the global climate...) From hackneyed original adaptations of horrible formulaic books (The DaVinci Code) to the Gainax ending of the X-Men trilogy through disgraceful remakes of horrible movies (The Omen), no a likeable believeable character is left standing, no hypnotic antagonist, no iconic new vision of beauty graces the blasted dreamscape of mass cinema. Even iconic characters like Superman return with recycled plots and shallow Christ figure pretensions. And what was with Superman's nerd kid suddenly killing that guy? That was more morally offensive in depiction than Lex Luthor's kryptonite terraforming. Even Johnny Depp's channeling of the Dread Pirate Richards in Dead Man's Chest is overshadowed by that films' set pieces and the final tacked-on cliffhanger.

Only a few bright moments can pierce this deluge of dreck: like the neo-noir Brick or A Scanner Darkly. But both are are harder to find than the masturbatory Messiah complex casually assumed and vaguely described by M.Night Shymalan in Lady in the Water, where he puts himself into his movie as the guy who writes a book which changes the world into a utopia somehow. Hey, even Hitchcock only put himself in his movies as a passing bystander, not as Jesus.

Even Pixar had an uncharacteristic stumble with Cars, after ladling a bit too much Disney schmaltz into the mix. Its unclear what we are supposed to be romantic for in that movie, nostalgia for inefficient behemoths or the days before the Interstate Highway System. If you crossed that movie with An Inconvienent Truth, well there would be a film to capture the national Zeitgeist:
Watch as plucky plug-in hybrid Zip sees his humble Detroit electric car parents crushed by the evil Dinoco and the villainous Studebaker, he sets out on a cross-country odyssey to find a cheap source of ethanol over in Switchgrass, CA; Will his charge last? Will he encounter a sinister-looking Humvee who turns out to be a dying mentor/surrogate father? Will he rescue a sexy Asian love interest from a violent pack of smoke-belching Buicks? Will the happy ending involve a talking bioengineered gasoline tree?
You're damn right it would!

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