Despicable Me

O Despicable Me! You owe Dr. Seuss lunch! Didn’t your friends warn you – you are exactly like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Still, you accomplish something very few films do – you are a satisfying modern adaptation/remake. Very few films ask themselves the question – do I really need to be re-adapted? Do I need to be remade? Can the original not stand on its own? Is the original so dated, or has the American viewing audience grown so retarded, that they cannot decipher its messages?

And I am not just referring to modern remakes. American-made versions overwhelmingly scar the legacy of their foreign-born counterparts. Just look at some hideously bad American-made versions – Scott Hicks’s  No Reservations, Yann Samuell’s My Sassy Girl, Neil LaBute’s Death at a Funeral. All mental midgets. All grossly inferior and misconstrued renderings of the source materials. But I digress. You Despicable Me are a gem. A real god amongst insects.

O Russell Brand! O Jason Segel! I was listening out for you and I did not even slightly recognize your voices. Steve Carell on the other hand – your voice was only thinly disguised. But why disguise? Why act at all actually? If producers are paying you all this money – why wouldn’t they want you to sound like yourself?

There is not much to say beyond these minor points. Other than there are some adorable animations. And a brilliant score produced by Pharrell Williams. Pretty much everything is better with Pharrell around. Music. Skateboards. Hats. A round of applause . . . $6

Nimrod Antal’s Predators

O Machete! Your trailer stole the show! I could barely think about Predators after seeing that. O Danny Trejo! You died so immediately in this one! Did you ask them to write you out so you could go film Machete? Smart move.

O Predators! Your director’s name is “Nimrod.” I’m sure you knew that. I don’t want to judge. I see an accent mark. It could be a perfectly legit name in other countries. But what was in your mind a year ago when you were signing all your faith and money over to a guy called “Nimrod?” Did that make you feel good? Feel like a good equal-opportunities employer now?

Nimrod aside, you are a better effort than the last brick in the Predator franchise (AVP). Though it is difficult to put a finger on why you were better. I think the race element has a lot to do with it. With a film as racially diverse as this (including two separate races of Predator) it becomes very pleasurable trying to predict the order of the slayings. Who next will be liquefied via lasers? The Russian? The Black guy? Who next will be impaled on a spear and paraded around? Who could predict the Mexican would be the first to go? Usually it’s the Asian. Though the film’s most popular Jew (played by Adrien Brody) makes it to the end – no surprises there.

I think your second most pleasurable element is your caricature of the convict. He really looks the part. I like that he wore his orange, prison jumpsuit to the jungle. I like that his weapon of choice is the shiv (not to mention he effectively uses said shiv to shank down a Predator). And I think his darkly comedic dialogue was easily the most skillfully written. Most skillfully? Well if not skill at least that written with the most flair. See convict saying (to paraphrase), “If I ever get ‘outta here I’m ‘gonna rape so many fine bitches.”

Has anyone else asked you about Laurence Fishburne? For instance how someone who has been scavenging on a treacherous, Predator game preserve remains so chunky? Sort of an inconsistency, don’t you think? Laurence – you have really let yourself go since Morpheus. Are you bulking up for something? Maybe to play Chubby Checker in a biopic? Chubby Checker – it’s just a name. Not actually that chubby. Are you and Val Kilmer teaming up to do a feature-length presentation of “The Biggest Loser?” Otherwise you baffle me.

Predators you are nothing new to cinema. But that doesn’t mean you won’t make someone a very nice video game someday . . . $3

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

O Eclipse! Why waste my breath on you? Bad reviews will not slow you down – you are a unstoppable! You are a juggernaut of pre-adolescent fantasy and gray makeup. You have posed the question – how will art fare on the market if you severely restrict the capacity for intellectual stimulation? And the retarded hordes of romance-starved women have answered the call! How calculating you are. How many monkeys and how many typewriters did you employ?

Dear Bella! How disappointed you will be when you discover that Edward can’t achieve a chubby. How you must have dreamed of doing battle with that chubby! Slaying the chubby night after night! But the dragon has long been dead. He is decomposing. How long and melancholy your wedding night will be. Were you convinced there was another reason he could not have vampire babies? Did you think he was shooting blanks? Did you think you would become a barren woman? Those would be favorable scenarios. Alas, the man only enjoys coming in his pants. Perhaps if your vagina was on his leg you could work something out. But no such luck.

It crossed my mind the Twilight Saga will become that series that people watch twenty years from now ironically – for their very badness. And in that scenario, you with your syphilitic army of newborn vampires has achieved a camp value beyond the previous two. But until you age into something palatable you are merely boring . . . $2

Entre Nos

O Entre Nos! You are a noble film. How often do you see films about poverty and immigration? Marginalization? Ethnic identity? You would think the current depression might spark an interest. But that is a false assumption. The American audience is far more interested in ignoring problems than in confronting them. Take as evidence a brief list of the current films on the market – The Twilight Sage: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, Knight and Day, The A-Team, Iron Man 2, etc. etc. Every one either a fairy tale or an action movie. These are for all-intensive purposes jack-off pictures. Jack-off casts. Jack-off digital fx. Jack-off pyrotechnics. All jack-off misdirections to numb the audience before they realize the movie has no original ideas.

I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m kind of a jack-off. Who wouldn’t rather cream their pants with spectacle instead of watching something that could make you confront something moral or horrific? But this is a redundant, unsurprising observation.

The surprising, delightful element is your local independent movie house that could be playing Entre Nos. Entre Nos! O you are truly arresting! An investigation of what an immigrant family will bear in isolation from any social services or resource. You are courageous! You are frightening! I feel excited that high caliber artists are still signing on for projects that emerge out of identity, family and community. Even if the finished product isn’t as slick as all the fairy-tales out there . . . $7

If you heart Entre Nos:

Recommendations by DJ Cheet
Peter Bratt’s La Mission
The Pursuit of Happyness
Hirokazu Koreeda’s Nobody Knows

And though it’s not a movie . . . The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child (book) by Francisco Jimenez

The City of Your Final Destination

O James Ivory! You would have made Ismail Merchant proud! O City of Your Final Destination! What are you about? Nostalgia? Longing? Jealousy? Heartache? Such sad things to ponder among your idyllic settings. What shall I praise first – your expert set and wardrobe design? Your superb cinematography? Your extraordinary cast? I’m out of adjectives. Let’s begin with cast.

O Anthony Hopkins! I was beginning to have such doubt. I saw The Wolfman and I thought, maybe he has Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer type. Maybe he’s throwing in the towel. But you are not demented. You are as ingenious an actor as you always were. There is something a little Hannibal Lecter about this role – I can’t put my finger on it precisely. It’s elegance punctuated by a dark hunger. O you and Hiroyuki Sanada are so precious together.

Laura Linney you are looking glamorous these days! Most movies they put you in a frumpy sweater. They put you in charge of a child or a profoundly retarded adult. Not that you can’t achieve sexiness in that. But usually you’re mom-sexy and not cougar-sexy. Here you’re kind of mean-sexy which is one of my favorite kinds.

O Charlotte Gainsbourg. You’re so charming! Even when you look sleepy and emaciated. I can’t help it – I want you around at dinnertime. I want to feed you.

What else is there to say? Amazing score. Unpredictable humor. Champagne and cigarettes. Bees. You have it all . . . $9

If you heart The City of Your Final Destination:

Recommendations by DJ Cheet
The Last Station
Babette’s Feast
Hirokazu Koreeda’s After Life

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