Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cloverfield, Ledger, Star Trek, and my James Bond advice for the McCain-Romney ticket

Four quick movie thoughts:

•I love to read Kyle’s movie reviews, but he is once more profoundly on crack with his negative review of Cloverfield. Yes, it’s basically just Blairzilla 911, just over an hour of shaky-cam footage of good-looking young people running through the streets of Manhattan during a giant monster attack. And? So what? We need more than that? It shaky-cams better than Blair Witch (which I found too amateurish and random to be scary), it monsters far better than that abominable U.S. version of Godzilla (which subsequently inspired the Japanese to depict the U.S. Godzilla as a separate monster, just so the real Godzilla could kick his ass in a later film), and it even 9/11s in a military-respecting way that I’d think veteran Kyle might appreciate. Still, Kyle is more entertaining to read when I disagree with him than almost anyone else is when I agree with them (even if he is, at heart, an old man living in the 1970s watching serious films featuring Gene Hackman).

I loved “Roar! (The Cloverfield Overture)” during the end credits, by the way, seemingly a conscious homage to the martial-yet-nervous-sounding, here-come-the-tanks music from the old Godzilla movies. (And I enjoyed the simple, unpretentious “also terrible” line, which summed up the movie’s wise no-explanations-necessary approach to things, and am delighted to hear about a pause-button-worthy element supposedly visible in the final ferris wheel shot — but I’ll say no more.)

Heath Ledger: Depression? Accidental overdose? Nightmare of portraying comics’ most notoriously insane and homicidal clown (who looks slightly like a couple women I’ve dated — and not the crazy ones, either)? I say all three.

We all know he’d split with Michelle Williams. Further, though, at that Lisa Loeb performance I went to this week, I overheard some media professional on his cell phone talking about how frighteningly little sleep movie stars get and how they routinely have to use sleeping pills and stimulants to stay on their harrowing production schedules. And Jack Nicholson apparently warned Ledger that playing the Batman’s deranged arch-foe takes a lot out of one’s psyche. Like the upset stomach I described in yesterday’s Retro-Journal entry, I think this death may be attributable to multiple factors.

As an homage, I would love to link to the hilarious YouTube clips from an old clown training video (specifically for Christian clowns working in nursing homes), pointed out some time ago by PiecesofFlair. However, those appear to have been taken down, robbing the world of such sound advice as avoidance of forming potentially-frightening “clown clusters” in the hallways (advice Virginia Postrel would probably second, since she recently noted a big survey of UK children in which they unanimously said clowns are frightening and don’t want to be visited by them while ill — one of the only unanimous psych surveys involving more than 200 subjects I’ve ever heard of).

Instead, here’s the most frightening (fictional) clown I’ve seen: the one from the swell Cranberries video “Salvation.”

Oh, and it appears that poor Terry Gilliam, whose Don Quixote movie famously fell apart because of production problems, may yet salvage The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by replacing Ledger with Johnny Depp, who had been slated to star in the Quixote film as well. May the results be better than The Brothers Grimm.

•I knew Sylar from Heroes would play Spock in the new Star Trek movie out at the end of the year (from Cloverfield director producer J.J. Abrams, well on his way to becoming the thinking man’s answer to those Stargate/Godzilla/Day After Tomorrow/10,000 B.C. morons), but I didn’t know until recently that Harold of Harold and Kumar is Sulu and — best of all — the awesome Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz guy is Scotty.

Oddly, the film will depict Christopher Pike being replaced by a Kirk played by Christopher Pine, but hopefully movie reporters won’t get confused.

And Nimoy’s in it (with Winona Ryder playing his mom, oddly enough), in some framing sequence, which if they were smart would be solely dedicated to explaining away any continuity issues, e.g., by having a drunk, elderly Spock say, “I gotta tell ya…lotta those earlier versions of the story…total bullshit, man…wouldn’t even be tellin’ ya the truth now if I weren’t so drunk…” More likely excuse: time travel, one more time.

•The upcoming presidential election will occur the same week as (indeed, just three days prior to) the release of the next James Bond movie, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to the series’ reinvention with Casino Royale (the new one’s called A Quantum of Solace, which I see as no weirder than the three or four interchangeable titles that the Brosnan movies had: Another World Will Never Die Tomorrow or whatever they were).

So my simple media advice to the (highly likely, as Tuesday may reveal) McCain-Romney ticket (whichever order the two of them are) is to ride the media zeitgeist circa fall 2008 by playing up their Bond-like qualities: able to endure torture, fight communists, be handsome, handle millions of glamorous dollars, have square jaws. Throw in Roberta McCain as the aging-yet-astonishingly-well-preserved M figure. The ads write themselves, and the Bond movie ads will then subconsciously remind the public of the McCain-Romney ticket (assuming the campaign “reform” laws McCain created don’t result in the film being banned). Half the GOP’s media work then handles itself, courtesy of film industry advertising (and we know McCain likes to compare himself to movie heroes).

And Hillary makes a great villain. But you knew that, and so, perhaps, does South Carolina.


Ali T. Kokmen said...

“…from Cloverfield director J.J. Abrams…”

Just to nitpick, Abrams is only credited as Cloverfield’s producer, not its director. It’s credited director is Abrams-friend Matt Reeves…

Todd Seavey said...

Oops. Fixed above.

Ali T. Kokmen said...

Now if only I could fix the “it’s” to “its” in my earlier nitpick…

I, not getting around much anymore, haven’t seen Cloverfield; was its reportedly nausea-inducing shaky cam as bad as some reports would have one believe?

Todd Seavey said...

I think only the elderly and the infirm need fear the shaky-cam. To anyone accustomed to it by decades of cop dramas, it just looks like life.

jic said...

“To anyone accustomed to it by decades of cop dramas, it just looks like life.”

When they started using shakycam in cop dramas, it added a sense of documentary ‘reality’. Now, it’s just an overused and irritating cliche. When I watch shakycam now I don’t see ‘documentary footage’, I see ‘old episode of *NYPD Blue*’

--Brad said...

By the way, rumor has it that also appearing in the Star Trek redux is the Guardian of Forever (thus explaining old Spock/young Spock), much to Harlan Ellison’s chagrin.