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Monday Movies: Fake Michael Cera

This week I decided to try a new strategy of writing up my thoughts as I watch the individual movies, rather than sitting down to do them all. This has resulted in longer remarks on each movie — you can judge for yourselves whether that’s good or bad. Meanwhile, I’d like to recommend this article on Eyes Wide Shut that Hill linked in last week’s post.

Movies watched this week:

  • Zombieland: I didn’t dislike this movie, but it didn’t really deliver the “senseless fun” quotient that the preview indicated — in fact, the preview already gave away the really good zombie-killing parts. The first review I saw on Netflix just now defends it as “only meant to be” a fun zombie movie, but you really do have to deliver on what you’re “only meant to be” for that to be any kind of defense. Only one moment in the movie really had me laughing, and I found the Bill Murray part to be way too far outside the frame. The biggest tragedy, though, is that apparently Woody Harrelson is now more affordable than the real Michael Cera — or else Michael Cera is more easily replaceable.
  • The Color Purple: My feminist theology class was looking at womanist theology, and my experience last quarter indicated that watching a movie about an unfamiliar experience is a good ice-breaker (I went a little “off book” and used Oliver Stone’s Salvador to give them a taste of the situation Latin American liberation theology was facing, and I heartily recommend that to other instructors). Since Alice Walker is the basis of womanism, what better movie could there be? Along with being a little overly sentimental, the movie shared all the common problems with novel adaptations, such as introducing entire plotlines through a 30-second voiceover. I also felt that Celie’s transition from utter passivity to murderous rage could’ve been better handled. Overall, though, I feel confident that the movie will get my class talking, and even if it doesn’t, I at least did them a service of getting them to watch one of the quintessential “I’ve been meaning to watch that but never got around to it” films.
  • The Baader-Meinhof Complex — I don’t know what to make of this movie. On the one hand, the history is interesting, and I always like to see left-wing radicals at work. It was very difficult for me to follow, though — by the time I’d straightened out the characters from the first half, they started dropping in random “second and third generation” types. Maybe all white people look alike to me.
  • The Goonies — The Girlfriend was sick and in the mood for something light and nostalgic, and my tragic nearly movie-free childhood meant I had never seen it before. I felt that in certain respects this movie didn’t make a lot of sense. For instance, it was unclear to me how dropping a baby would turn him into a super-strong monster, and I marvelled at the engineering abilities of the pirate. And why did every single line have to be yelled? But hey.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze — this is where The Girlfriends need for “comfort movies” may have gone a pinch too far. It was really funny to realize how much Turtles trivia I remembered — for instance, the mutants “Tokka” and “Rahzar” are poor substitutes for Bebop and Rocksteady — and there was a certain joy in the script’s total lack of any logic. The guest appearance by Vanilla Ice was definitely a highlight.

February 8, 2010 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. Bebop and Rocksteady

    Wait, did … villains in the TMNT universe all have names taken from musical genres? Is that why Shredder is so called?

    Comment by ben wolfson | February 8, 2010

  2. I never saw the TMNT movies, even though I was a follower of the comic and the television cartoon, I think because the live action rendered the turtles so much less “cute” than they appeared in the comic and especially the television series. I did have the board game though.

    Ben, are you excluding Krang from your analysis because he was not in the original comic?

    Comment by jms | February 8, 2010

  3. The actor who played the character named “Chunk” in Goonies was the student president of my fine undergraduate institution my freshman year. But I never actually saw that movie. My childhood, like Adam’s, was cinematically impoverished.

    Let me see if I can remember all the movies I saw in the theaters when I was a kid:

    – E.T. The lady sitting next to us could not stop crying, and my sister thought this was hilarious. I was really young, and don’t remember anything about this movie.

    – Neverending Story. It stressed me out so much when The Nothing came that I told my mom I needed to go to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to watch. She was like, now?. I sat in the stall and told myself, it isn’t real, it isn’t real, until my mom was like, okay, I think you’re done.

    – Amadeus. We saw this on a family outing to the Mann’s Theater, next city over. Afterwards, I asked my dad if it was a true story. I was worried, because I took very literally the part where Salieri says that Don Giovanni was the ghost of Wolfgang’s father. My dad said it was based on a true story, which I took to mean that ghosts were real. This fucked me up for a long time.

    – Batteries Not Included. I still love this movie. I don’t watch that many movies and M was puzzled by the prominence of this particular film in my mind, so we watched it again a year or so ago, and he was right, it’s pretty bad.

    – Crossing Delancey. My poor mom. She took me and my friends to the movie theater on my birthday, because she thought that going to the movies would be a fun birthday thing to do. About fifteen minutes in she realized her mistake. Fortunately we were all too young, and too bored, to be much interested in the inappropriate stuff.

    Comment by jms | February 8, 2010

  4. i watched Easy Virtue and Head in the clouds, thought Jessica Biel is a better actress maybe than Charlize Theron
    also I watched a silent movie, Bunuel’s, with the slicing a woman’s eyeball

    Comment by read | February 8, 2010

  5. i was alarmed when Head in the clouds again started with a clairvoyant, but then recalled i watched in between Easy Virtue and Little ashes, that Pattison guy also i thought is not a bad actor, the other actors were pretty forgettable
    Un Chien Andalou, it was, i enjoyed reading its wiki afterwards, they forgot to mention the scene were the woman applies her lipstick and it appears on the young man’s mouthless face

    Comment by read | February 8, 2010

  6. @3 (the ET part) – I’m sure that lady was part of the movie as, in any case, she was there when I saw ET. And Spielberg trumps Cameron anytime so it wouldn’t be beyond him to have a 3D spectator included in the movie experience.

    Comment by JoB | February 8, 2010

  7. That link really makes me want to re-watch Eyes Wide Shut.

    Comment by stras | February 8, 2010

  8. i started to read the article and there was like endless mentioning of who is richer than who, i got bored and dropped to read, should have scrolled further down maybe
    i wished i could find movies without any romantic notions in them, why it has to be in all things, so resentful
    then i thought it’s b/c it’s rare how it happens in the movies in real life, so people generally idealize it too much in the movies and art thus making it more and more unattainable

    Comment by read | February 8, 2010

  9. I watched They Live on Friday evening. Roddy Piper is hilarious, and the movie is unquestionably a classic for the left, but some things could have been better executed. Still highly entertaining. I’m also reading a Zizek article on it right now, but I’m not sure if it’s any good or not:

    Comment by Dave Mesing | February 8, 2010

  10. My question was based on ignorance, jms, and you take it to be based on knowledge. This is my curse.

    Comment by ben wolfson | February 8, 2010

  11. Re 3, the fat kid from the Goonies, J/eff C/ohen, is now an entertainment lawyer in Beverly Hills.

    Comment by Robert Halford | February 8, 2010

  12. 11. Ha. When he ran for student president “Vote for Chunk” was his entire campaign platform. (We complied, because we were apparently a campus of idiots.) His law firm website talks about Chunk too — I guess the Goonies angle continues to serve him well.

    Comment by jms | February 8, 2010

  13. i wish i knew RH’s contact info to send him FB friending request

    Comment by read | February 9, 2010

  14. Fake Michael Cera is actually more suitable than real Michael Cera for some enterprises. Adventureland was tender and sincere in a way that real Michael Cera mightn’t have pulled off; he has a quality of sincerity, but it’s a burlesque of it.

    Comment by K-sky | February 9, 2010

  15. Zombieland could have gone either way, for my money. And this is to say nothing of all of Fake Michael Cera’s B-land through Y-land movies, all straight-to-DVD.

    Comment by K-sky | February 9, 2010

  16. oh, so it’s eight

    Comment by read | February 9, 2010

  17. The key to understanding the Goonies is to recognize that, in fact, it is just a polemic for the awesomeness of Rube Goldberg machines. The logic of dropping a baby on his head turning him into a super-strong monster is the same as the logic of dropping a bowling ball to open a gate.

    Comment by Jesse A. | February 10, 2010

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