Movies: Trainwreck Double Feature
I like all types of movies. On the pages of this blog, you'll see favorable reviews for big budget blockbusters, contemplative foreign films, and indie horror flicks, among others. Not all of these movies contain deep symbolism - sometimes you just want to watch escapist fare, not a film that you could write a research paper about. When extra layers are there to be explored, the result can be very fun.
A bad movie is a bad movie, though, no matter how much "meaning" people try to inject afterward. Just look at today's two examples - "Caché" and "Justice League: The New Frontier."
Michael Haneke directed "Funny Games" (both the original German language version and the U.S. remake), so I thought I knew what to expect from this movie, billed as a drama/psychological thriller:
Georges and his family are receiving menacing videotapes that show views of their home. It seems like demons from Georges' past are coming back to confront him. When Pierrot, Georges' son, goes missing, the tension becomes unbearable and things start coming apart. There's a whole lot of waffling and indignation over this surveillance, and one scene of sudden, sharp violence.
I wanted to give the movie a chance, but the pacing is completely off - there's plenty of sequences where nothing important happens, except perhaps in the minds of overeager film critics. Supposedly there's some subtext here that involves bourgeois guilt over the massacre of Algerians during the '60s, but it doesn't excuse a mediocre plot that ends with a thud.
Justice League: The New Frontier
There's something tantalizing about seeing multiple superheroes onscreen at once. The combination of disparate powers and personalities can be fun to watch, which explains why both the major comics publishers, DC and Marvel, have their own superhero teams. The DC version, Justice League, is nearing its fiftieth anniversary, but the film adaptation of "New Frontier" is probably not one of the high points in its storied mythology:
This is an adaptation of a six-part comic series, and it shows. The plot is laughably incoherent, with many sequences playing out like vignettes from various separate TV programs. You'll the Flash battle a freeze-ray villain, and then five minutes later Batman and Martian Manhunter are beating the crap out of some cultists - what connections exist between these events are slim indeed. New characters are introduced constantly, too, right up to the finale.
Most irksome is the short shrift given to Superman, one of the pillars that DC is built on. Kal-El has a walk-on part, but the focus seems to be almost entirely on the Green Lantern. I ask you this - if Superman can't solve a problem, what makes you think Green Lantern could do it?