I enjoy watching movies. You’ve probably figured that out by now. I enjoy both going to the cinema and watching DVDs at home although my preference is the big screen. I recently saw the new print of Breathless. Ohhh, it was good.
Two weeks ago, I walked into a living room in the Valley that had 8,000 DVDs. I turned around and saw 360 degrees of DVDs. Everywhere were shelves and shelves of DVDs. Most of the spines were dark colors, so the room felt like a plastic prison with a plasma screen TV and two computers sitting on the coffee table. The DVDs were organized by actor and director, and there was also a huge overflowing bookcase of foreign films. 8,000 DVDs. Sheesh!
Had I stumbled to the bottom of the movie watching abyss? How does one watch them all? Were we all headed into the heart of plastic darkness? Was I being melodramatic? Why was my head on internal monologue overload? I managed a quick escape from the plastic media prison. I ran out out out out into the sunshine----into the middle of the summer movie season.
This was going to be a simple, short review of one or two action flicks, but like the budget for said action flicks, it very quickly expanded into more and more.
I grew up with two brothers, so I watched a lot of The A-Team in the eighties. I liked The A-Team. I liked their teamwork and camaraderie. I liked that they always took on the bullies and bad guys who were usually terrorizing some really nice people. I liked that the A-Team beat the bad guys after firing off a million rounds of ammunition and not killing anyone. I liked that George Peppard’s Hannibal at the end of every episode would light up his cigar, stare out at the ruins in front of him, and say one of the greatest lines of 1980s television: I love it when a plan comes together.
The A-Team was a man’s world. Occasionally, a female reporter would tag along, but she didn’t do any heavy lifting. There was usually a fling for Face, the handsome member of the team. Face taught me the difference between a fling and a commitment. Some men were commitments, and some men were flings. Face was definitely fling material.
Even though I had heard mixed to bad things about the new A-Team movie, I was in the mood for a lot of smashing, crashing, banging, and explosions, and yes, the film did deliver on the smashing and crashing. I especially appreciated the sky-diving tank sequence.
Still, The A-Team in the movie were not The A-Team from my childhood. The TV characters were never meant to be movie characters. Every week, we watched the TV A-Team and knew they would not change or be anything other than what they were. In the movie, the characters were given depth that they didn’t need. For example, B.A. went all zen and pacifist at one point. Then, Face, the likable rogue, got all lovelorn over Jessica Biel's character. Fortunately, they kept Murdock howling mad, and he stole every scene.
Like Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, The A-Team is an origin story. We learn how the A-Team came to be (even though we learned that every week at the beginning of every episode). The film has a lot of scenes with Liam Neeson’s Hannibal on the cell phone demanding all charges be dropped against his men. Of course, we all know how that’s gonna end. That’s one plan that will not come together.
Iron Man 2 is not an origin story. We already know who Iron Man is and that everyone knows Iron Man’s not-so-secret identity. I remember little of Iron Man 1 except for the one-man play where Robert Downey Jr. got to build boy toys and manipulate touch screens. The dude is such a good actor that he made building a super hero suit interesting. Oh yeah, and he puts on the super suit and fights Jeff Bridges (also in a super suit) at the end.
One could go into a whole intellectual reading of Iron Man as self and super ego, but really, it’s too fun for that. Iron Man 2 has more of an ensemble vibe with a bunch of great actors giving Downey something more than computers to play off of. There are still lots of fancy cars and gadgets, and most importantly, we learn how Iron Man goes to the bathroom. Basically, if I was a guy, I’d want to grow up to be Iron Man.
Rounding out my trio of guy guy films, I saw Centurion at a screening. I think at some point, it will show up at a theatre near you or maybe on cable or Netflix.
Set in the North of England in the second century, Centurion is about a rag tag group of Roman soldiers trapped in hostile territory after a brutal attack by the local Picts. Cut off from Rome and on the run (seriously, they run a lot in this movie), these seven guys must survive snow, wind, cold, and a mute woman tracker determined to kill them.
Yep, mute woman tracker. But she kicks ass. It’s always the quiet ones. This movie ended up being a lot better than I thought it would be. Gallons of blood rain down as bodies are hacked and severed. Like Iron Man 2, this film is also chock full of good actors who play pain really well. Unlike, A-Team and Iron Man 2, Centurion embraces the wilderness instead of the man-made world, and it becomes much more exciting in the process.
Twilight: Eclipse also goes out into the wild hills of the Pacific Northwest. Yep, Teenage Bella’s back with her boyfriends and a bunch of vampires who want to kill her. Bella has to choose between the stone cold vampire lifestyle and hot animal werewolf lifestyle.
The film opens with Bella and her vampire in a field reading poetry. It’s pretty clear that she’s leaning toward the vampire even though the vampire won’t have sex with her because as a vampire, he could kill her. He also explains that he comes from a different time---a time before birth control and sexual liberation when people sat on porches and courted. Uh-huh. So two movies worth of making out on top of a bed doesn’t count? Personally, when it comes to vampires, I’m more a Spike girl anyway. Spike would so totally kick Edward’s ass.
Meanwhile, the werewolf is hot and goes shirtless most of the time. Yep, he works out in the werewolf gym. The werewolf gets more Bella action than the vampire. He even shares a sleeping bag with Bella while the vampire is in the tent. Here, the film truly becomes a warped female fantasy. Bella gets both her boys in a tent to keep her warm and safe, and they don’t kill each other. They just talk.
In this film, I found myself rooting for werewolf boy. He was the better kisser---oh that last kiss he gives to Bella before going off to fight the battle---yummy. I wonder if a pack of cougars could join the wolf pack. We cougars don’t tease.
The Twilight movies are becoming a saga of teases. There’s a lot of talk about the final big battle. They talk and they plan---planning is big in the Twilight series. When the final battle finally happens, it feels really fast and anti-climatic. THAT was what all the fuss was about? To quote Elvis, I’d prefer, a little less conversation, a little more action.
I Am Love, an Italian art house film starring Tilda Swinton, does have sex. . .and food. . .and nice clothes. It’s a grown woman’s fantasy film. When I walked out of the theatre, I found myself longing to read D.H. Lawrence again. Maybe I will after I finish the latest Martin Amis novel. Besides, I think I’ve seen enough movies for awhile.
After typing this, I went for one of my marathon hikes up in Malibu. Wild flowers in bloom. Bees busy buzzing. Hawks in the sky. Lizards on the ground. I looked out at the cloud line. No plastic in sight.