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Friday, June 20, 2008

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on June 20 at 16:20 PM

Woo, SIFF is over… and just in time, because it’s sunny outside. Meanwhile, in theaters, a whole lot of middling-to-awful summer movies are landing with a thump.

If you missed it, here is my final take on The Happening: not intelligent design propaganda. Just a very silly movie about the menacing rustling of leaves.

Opening this week:

Speaking of awful summer movies: I try to describe the unique brand of yuck that is The Love Guru (“When Mike Meyers isn’t making inane pseudo-puns, he’s exploiting stereotypes of relatively defenseless sub-minorities, such as French-Canadians and black women. Classy”).

Paul Constant appraises the SIFF alum Mongol (“When your protagonist is responsible for fathering half of a percent of the modern world’s male population through rape and conquest, any aspirations toward romance ring hollow. Casting Genghis Khan as a one-woman man is an unspeakably batshit-crazy maneuver”).


I write up the so-so Get Smart (“Get Smart moves quickly, and the insanely hyperbolic action sequences are enough to distract you from most of the movie’s flaws. Except for the lazy jokes about the character flaws of George W. Bush”).

Bradley Steinbacher sits through the Julianne Moore freakshow (and SIFF holdover) Savage Grace (“As it turns out, no amount of lover swapping and incestuous three-ways can make vacant, uninteresting people interesting”).

Charles Mudede reviews a worthwhile SIFF alum, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (“Though he is not a user of steroids, [director Chris] Bell is very critical of how his culture codes them. The culture wants you to be bigger and better and faster, and at the same time it marks the use of drugs that make you bigger and better and faster as wrong. The contradiction results in all manner of absurdities, a number of which Bell exposes”).

And Steinbacher destroys the fourth SIFF alum of the week, The Children of Huang Shi (“The film’s biggest weakness is [Jonathan Rhys] Meyers. With a feeble delivery and a pretty-but-blank mug, he’s far too bland to hang an overly earnest film on. Only at the end, as the real-life survivors recount their memories over the closing credits, does The Children of Huang Shi achieve the impact it’s been straining for”).

Finally, Lindy West discusses her glamorous roots.


In Limited Runs this week: Tonight only are two Sichuan earthquake benefit screenings of Made in China, by Genius shortlister John Helde, at Northwest Film Forum. Also at NWFF: Passing Poston, an interesting but badly constructed film about a Japanese-American internment camp in WWII, and Rabbit in the Moon, an excellent film about the internment, and Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, the first in a summer Miyazaki series. Grand Illusion is doing a whole week of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, plus the late-night Joysticks, about a video arcade. Central Cinema has a family-friendly “Balloonamentary”; SAM has a gay-pride screening of Victor/Victoria; Silent Movie Mondays has The Gaucho, with an uncharacteristic bad-dude performance by Douglas Fairbanks (that’s Sr., not Jr., as I mistakenly wrote in the print edition). And the beloved IMAX classic Beavers is back at the Science Center starting tomorrow. (SIFF Cinema reopens next week, by the way, with the new Guy Maddin fantasia, My Winnipeg.)

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French-Canadians are a relatively defenseless sub-minority now?

I did not know that the were relatively defenseless...

I knew they were The Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys Of The Great White North, but I thought that was by idealogical choice, not due to their relative defenselessness...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 20, 2008 4:33 PM

And relative to what?... Mike Meyers? That is defenseless...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 20, 2008 4:34 PM

I'm going to have to disagree with a lot of these reviews. Maybe you're still suffering from SIFF fatigue at the Stranger, but:

The Love Guru - if you like Mike Myers films, go see it. If you don't, skip it.

Mongol - the audience loved it. If you're a historical accuracy buff, go watch a documentary or get a life.

Get Smart - if you like pratfall movies and think that's high entertainment, you'll like the movie - if you think Plato discussing Kabuki with Sartre is high comedy, avoid this.

Savage Grace - Bigger Stronger Faster - no opinion.

The Children of Huang Shi - a very excellent movie, commercial without Disney aspects, most characters have a good multidimensional feel, and with some fine acting. Great sweeping epic and a good film.

don't know much about the rest except:

Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind - this is an amime film, but true to the original graphic novels - if you love this style of graphic novel, or were a Metal Hurlant fan, you'll enjoy this. If not, go see something else. It's a bit slow if you're expecting hard core action, but appealing to fans of the original graphic novels.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 4:48 PM

Double minorities (French-speaking & Canadian, so relative to US English speakers; black and female, so relative to white men) that are defenseless subjects of comedy because really, who's going to complain on their behalf? Sorry to be confusing, but my point stands.

And Will, no, seriously, I love Austin Powers and its sequels. The Love Guru is not just another Mike Meyers movie. It is horrific. Go see it. Even you will understand.

Posted by annie | June 20, 2008 4:58 PM

Well, we'll see. Maybe you can convince me, but we've differed on movies before, annie. I remember Mike's stuff from before you saw it in the States ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 20, 2008 5:34 PM


So, is it basically all the cringe-inducing aspects of Austin Powers with none of the fun spy movie jokes?

Posted by keshmeshi | June 20, 2008 5:34 PM

It's just not funny. Except for the Bollywood sequence, which lasts about 3 minutes in total, and except for the scenes in which the midget from Austin Powers is tortured because, um, Mike Meyer's character doesn't like midgets.

Posted by annie | June 20, 2008 5:40 PM

@6 for the win!

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 21, 2008 11:32 AM

It's isn't just Annie; The Love Guru ranks as one of the year's widely most detested motion pictures, and 2008 has produced some real losers. Come December, it's sure to top a lot of worst movie lists.

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | June 22, 2008 6:43 PM

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