Movie Watching This Week

Jeff VanderMeer • December 24th, 2008 @ 4:13 pm • Culture

In addition to the 60 in 60 trial by fire and football, I’ll be watching movies this week to unwind. Thus far, The Cleaner (B minus thriller), Wisdom of Crocodiles (bizarre serial killer surrealness with Jude Law pissing people crystals), Edmond (William F. Macy in Mamet scripted descent into madness–pretty darn good), and Across 110th Street (70s thriller semi exploitation flick with Anthony Quinn about stolen mob money–mostly good). Upcoming: Kung Fu Panda, Wall-e, Hancock, Miss Pettigrew, second X-files movie, John Adams miniseries, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and, ahem, Baby Mama. Frankly, this is the week where I like to turn off my brain, so I need antidotes to the 60 in 60….

Also read a novel coming out in April that I highly recommend: Castle by J. Robert Lennon. Kind of Heart of Darkness meets Evenson/Kafka and current events. Remarkable in its psychological study of the main character.

29 Responses to “Movie Watching This Week”

  1. JesseFord says:

    What’s wrong with Baby Mama? I’ve been singing Tina Fey’s praises long before everybody else took notice, so I’m slightly insulted by this. By slightly I mean not at all. And Amy Poehler’s been making me laugh since playing Andy Richters kid sister on Conan O’Brien. Do I have a point to this? Let me consult the bourbon I’ve been drinking……

    As it turns out: no. No I do not. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:


    Sometimes I guess I worry people will think I am skitzophrenic with the combo of high/low/pop culture featured here…

  3. Larry says:

    I wondered if you were schizo from the first Evil Monkey post of yours that I read… ;) Will look into that book – who’s the publisher?

  4. brendan connell says:

    I sort of found Across 110th St. to be a let-down when I saw it a few years ago. I am an Anthony Quinn fanatic, so I have to see everything he’s been in. I thought he was fine, but couldn’t really get much out of the stereotyped African Americans. Good music though, to be sure.

  5. jeff vandermeer says:

    I thought there was some knowingness about the stereotypes.

  6. jeff vandermeer says:

    Larry–yeah, that’s how I meant to spell it.

    Brendan–not to defend 110 too much. definitely not nuanced. but as b-movie noir you can do a lot worse.

  7. brendan connell says:

    You mean it was sort of tongue-in-cheek? I certainly wasn’t offended, I just sort of was unable to take those characters as seriously on an emotional level as I would have liked. Maybe it is a general flaw of American cop films of the 70’s though. Or maybe I just approach these kind of films too seriously?

    Miss Pettigrew is the only other film I have seen that you mentioned. I enjoyed it.

  8. jeff vandermeer says:

    Not tongue in cheek. That some of the African American characters in subtle sarcasm acknowledged the typecasting. But also that in a weird way because almost everyone white or black is a type it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I think my expectations must have been low or I am just sympathetic to “hardboiled” because I found some surprisingly sophisticated stuff in it, including some of the editing.

  9. brendan connell says:

    oops cross post. Yes, I totally agree Jeff. I have watched a sort of crazy number of these kind of films over the last year or two for a book I am writing, and Across 110th st. is above average.

    If I can recommend a film for you, of about the same era, that I actually think rises above (and will certainly take your mind off of those philosophers), try Milano odia: la polizia non puo’ sparare [Milan Hates: The Police Can't Fire], or Almost Human as it is called in English. (No idea if the English version holds up though).

  10. jeff vandermeer says:

    I also think of hardboiled noir as being about as fantastical as heroic fantasy. The reality is so gritty and cynical and emotionally damaged that it is hyper-real and thus fantastical. and thus I read it differently.

  11. brendan connell says:

    Maybe I’ll look at it again. I have a dvd of it, so it is easy enough.

    I actually approached it with really high expectations though, so maybe that is why it didn’t give me as much back. I was sort of expecting something mind blowing, since Curtis Mayfied did the sound track and it starred one of my favourite actors.

  12. jeff vandermeer says:

    keep talking. am at strange event. must be entertained.

  13. brendan connell says:

    Strange event? Hmmm. I am here waiting for my wife to go to bed so I can wrap her present.

  14. jeff vandermeer says:

    That’s funny–she said the same thing about you. baboom. i’ll be here all week…

  15. jeff vandermeer says:

    I don’t even know what that means. just bored out of my skull.

  16. brendan connell says:

    What is this even that has you sitting there bored on Christmas Eve? I imagine you sitting there in a tux listening to some old lady whose head is weighed down with frosty white pearls talk about her spiritual awakening in the year ’38.

  17. jeff vandermeer says:

    can’t say. even rude of me to have brought it up. but def not tux.

  18. James says:

    Is the Hanukkah Bear telling long-winded, Manischewitz-fueled stories again? Speaking of anthropomorphized ursines, Kung Fu Panda gets a thumbs up from me. I was virtually dragged to the couch to watch it the other day, and it turned out to be remarkably well animated, without being dumbed down for the kids.

    As for the high/low/pop culture blend, that’s why we all tune in so regularly. Bonne Fete to you and yours.

  19. jeff vandermeer says:

    nothing jewish tonight. lots of mystery meat though. saw part of panda on a plane. looked great.

  20. jeff vandermeer says:

    honestly though I am being unkind. because I am the kind of curmudgeon who likes to curl up on the couch during a holiday, avoids the mall rush, etc.

  21. James says:

    By the way, I’m glad to hear about Castle. I was a big fan of Lennon’s earlier Mailman, which, as you described for this latest book, featured strong, detailed characterization.

  22. jeff vandermeer says:

    James–I plan to seek out his other work now.

    Miss Pettigrew turned out to be a delightful, frothy romantic comedy of errors. Excellent comic timing and pacing, with stunning acting by McDormand and Amy Adams. Two of my favorite actors. Uplifting without being stupid.

  23. Larry says:

    Lord, I spent a few hours with family and I come back to hear girlfriend/mama jokes? :O I feel as though I’ve missed out!

  24. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Oh you didn’t miss out that much…

  25. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    OMG. Now we are watching A Christmas on Mars with the Flaming Lips. Anyone seen this? So far I would have to be on crack and LSD to understand this, man. Alas, I do no drugs not Belgian and liquid in nature….

  26. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    There’s like an egg and a plastic baby and some lips and an underwear model, all set to Flaming Lips music…well, crossing them off the list for the Finch soundtrack.

  27. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Why do so many SF filmmakers think boring slow pacing is important? is it because of 2001. problem is, most are not Kubrick. Er, certainly not the FLs…

  28. Larry says:

    Thanks. Now I’ll be thinking of the Flaming Lips while at midnight mass :P

  29. jeff vandermeer says:

    xfiles 2 had some great moments but didn’t add up to much. once you guess the what and why they don’t add any further ending revelation that would up the stakes. in fact, the more you think about the situation, the more ludricrous it becomes. also…when did the fbi become so consistently dumb in the xfiles. they can’t even surround a building properly anymore. or think “hey–mebbe I shouldn’t shout to my partner while pursuing a dangerous man 20 stories up on a half completed building site…come to think of it I prob shldnt lean out this here window when I don’t know where the killer is because he might–aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

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