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Once a Girl’s Seen Monday Movies in Action, Niagara Falls Kind of Leaves You Cold

After X-Men: First Class, I was talking to Leigh about My Superhero Movie Problem–And Ours. (Superheroes are deeply embedded in Leigh’s personal mythology, a fact of which I was just becoming aware some fifteen years ago when I recorded her singing my high school band’s song “Superhero Music” — a recording which somehow never made the leap to digital along with the rest of my juvenilia, and which is redeemed only by Leigh’s improvisation of “Why don’t you leave your utility belt in the corner?” at the end of the track.) She proposed that Superman II was a counter-example, with a powerful story that distinguished itself from the standard fare, and we scheduled it for the holiday weekend.

Leigh recalled the powerful themes correctly. After Lois Lane demonstrates that she knows who’s behind Clark Kent’s glasses, Superman must choose between the woman he loves and being super. He gives up the powers of a god to love a woman — but must leave her behind and reclaim his mantle when General Zod, Ursa and Non need must have their asses kicked. There’s a remarkable sequence (one of the ones originally shot by Richard Donner) in which the now-mortal son of Jor-El gets his ass handed to him by Rocky the diner-counter thug.

Unfortunately, the movie is otherwise a mess. Superman doesn’t actually come face to face with the bad guys until the hour mark or so. The handoff from one director to another leaves the movie uneven and awkwardly campy. The story would have been helped by having Superman encounter the evil trio early on, and only then, thinking he’d beaten them, put down his superpowers for the love of a mortal woman. There’s a Superman reboot forthcoming starring White Collar‘s Henry Cavill, and Michael Shannon as General Zod; maybe it will make something of the good stuff from Superman II.

Below the fold, a couple of false starts and something on theme for Independence Day…

Based on a Facebook status update in which my friend woke up to find his five-year-old daughter watching the documentary Helvetica, we started the documentary Helvetica. It seemed a little wide-eyed for awhile, but sometime around minute 30 one of the talking heads began to suggest, critically, that the clean lines of Helvetica were helpful to governments and corporations who wanted to appear more humanistic. And then there was an unreconstructed hippie designer who, with only half a wink, said that Helvetica was the font of the Vietnam War (my mind went to this, which is not Helvetica at all), and again the wars of today. It looks interesting but who knows if we will finish it? We are also ten minutes in to Eat Drink Man Woman.

Happy founding of America! Silly movie, didn’t want to embed. Kneel before Zod!

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July 4, 2011 - Posted by | boredom, Monday Movies | , ,

7 Comments

  1. 6/28/11 – Dancing Girl of Izu – Gosho 1933 silent
    Tanaka Kinuyo very very charming;movie made her a star
    6/30/11 – Social Network – Fincher
    might be something here if I could be bothered
    7/02/11 – Mujo – Jissoji 1970
    one of the most challenging, difficult movies evah;incest and Buddhist philosophy; Noh masks and
    inheritance traditions; extremely Japanese;and that’s before we talk technique
    7/02/11 – There Was A Father – Ozu 1942
    I love this one; an early experiment, this was the most extreme use of Ozu’s late style until after Early Spring around 1957-58
    7/03/11 – Let Me In – Reeves 2010
    ok fine;much merit on its own, say Let the Right One In 8.0, LMI 7.0;the lead actress in the Swedish LTROI manages more ambiguity (creepy, uncanny valley) in gender, dual ages, and species (?) while remaining a child than the Americans would allow themselves;American version warmer and more emotional. I find this story incredibly disturbing (socially). Badlands or Natural Born Killers as sympathetic and empathetic love story. The horror of our times.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | July 4, 2011

  2. My wife and I saw Super 8. It was good when it was a movie about kids trying to make a movie. When it turned its attention to the main story, it lost a lot of momentum. I see it’s getting a lot of good reviews that admit it’s flawed. I think that’s The equivalent of an employee’s first impression as a good worker sticking with his boss long after he’s become a slacker.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | July 4, 2011

  3. We watched a movie this weekend. Our first in quite a while. We had wanted to watch those “Girl With…”/”Girl Who…” movies, but they cycled off On Demand before we got a chance. We ended up watching “Dinner for Schmucks,” which seemed liked a good idea in principle. After all, it had Paul Rudd, Jemaine & Mel, and the guy we affectionately refer to as my older brother, Zach Galifianakis. It also, of course, had Michael Scott–and Peter Gibbons and Mr. Brown from the “Diversity Day” episode of “The Office.” With the exception of Jemaine, the movie was completely unexceptional and it succumbed to the worst of all the plot devices: get the girl (who just happens to be the most annoying, most repulsive woman on the planet, or so it seemed) back after a fight based upon a misunderstanding where the idiot friend who caused all the problems in the first also holds the key to reconciliation. Needless to say, we thought the movie was actually about the aforementioned dinner. Instead, the eponymous dinner was but a five or ten minute detour in what was an excessively long–and boring–movie.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | July 4, 2011

  4. I watched Midnight in Paris, which I didn’t much like. I also read ben’s post about same on unfogged, which was more interesting and seemed better thought through than the film itself.

    I also saw Transformers 3, which was, like MiP silly, juvenile and had terrible gender politics (and in a not totally-dissimilar way). At least I expected these qualities in T3 (although having watched my share of Woody Allen films over a lifetime, I guess I could have foreseen them in MiP as well). I haven’t seen the first two Transformers movies, but found that this was no obstacle to understanding, as the dialogue consisted of a running explanation and summary of the events. Overall I preferred this film to MiP, as it made me laugh occasionally (as with the scene where Megatron blows up the Lincoln memorial and sits in Lincoln’s chair, which was, admit it, pretty inspired); and all other things being equal, a film with Tyrese Gibson is always better than a film without Tyrese Gibson. This film was also the first 3-D movie I have ever watched. I wasn’t especially impressed by that aspect.

    Comment by jms | July 4, 2011

  5. I confess The Wife and I saw something called Women in Trouble. We did so because we were both exhausted and it was marked ‘comedy’ and promised mild sexuality. It turned out that it was neither arousing nor particularly funny. Other than that it was pretty OK. Better than most Woody Allen movies not featuring Scarlet Johansson.

    Comment by Guido Nius | July 4, 2011

  6. We saw about five minutes of a Woody Allen movie the other night. He was dressed up as a horny Robin Hood. We both wondered, “What the fuck do people see in this man and his movies? A fifteen year old asshat could do better.”

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | July 4, 2011

  7. I saw Midnight in Paris, as mentioned above.

    Also, a few weeks ago, I watched Bunny Lake is Missing. I thought it was pretty good, though the denouement is pretty bizarre. Noël Coward’s character is amusing.

    Comment by ben | July 6, 2011


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