Movie time! Yep, gonna talk about a couple of movies today. First up is an old guilty favorite of mine, Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipes, Dennis Leary, Benjamin Bratt, Glenn Shadix and the incomparable Nigel Hawthorne. I think my favorite aspect of this flick is the dialogue. It’s an interesting take on what language could become if society underwent a radical change…and by radical change I mean the metaphoric equivalent of repeatedly having its mouth washed out with soap. It leaves a language that is both childlike in some respects, and without self-consciousness. It reflects what undewent in the society as a whole which, to me, is the least believeable aspect of the movie.
Could one man like Dr. Cocteau, a Brit for that matter, change a society within one generation to the point where foul language, violence anti-social behavior and physical sex are eliminated?
Of course not. Fortunately Demolition Man isn’t meant to be highbrow or even particularly thoughtful, so we can easily suspend our disbelief and see the future Los Angeles (San Angeles) as such a place. But I have to hand it to the writers Peter Lenkov, Robert Reneau, and Daniel Waters. There’s some real clever stuff hidden in places here and there. And some funny lines. I don’t think it was coincidence that the new name of Los Angeles (city of angels) becomes San Angeles (saint angels or perhaps _without_ angels).
Just a thought.
On one level, it’s a cheesy action flick. On another level, it’s a not-very-subtle commentary on society. On yet another level, there’s that whole Utopia-is-Dystopia thing going on.
And finally, I give real shout-outs to the acting. Yes, it occasionally devolves into bouts of overacting, (Action flick, remember?) and Dennis Leary needs a chocke-chain, but for the most part, the actors pull off a sense of being part of their (fictional) world very believeably. And I love watching Nigel Hawthorne work. Always have ever since I first saw him on Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister
Recommendation? Sure thing. I’d even recommend purchasing it as it’s worthy of multiple viewings. At the very least, it’s a good rental recommendation. And it’s one of those movies that, if I see it on cable, I stop and watch.
Now, leaving one fantasyland for another, I also recently watched Joe Eszterhas’s An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn directed by Arthur Hiller and (ahem) Alan Smithee. It’s a movie not just for movie fans, but for folks who follow and are interested in the movie business. It’s am 86-minute inside joke. This makes it a weak choice for most people, but a great choice for hardcore movie fans. It’s satire. And in its documentary format it means that folks don’t have to be great actors. Whoopie and Jackie Chan were okay. Stallone (another Stallone movie?) was surprisingly quite good. They’re the three stars of the fictional police action movie “Trio” directed by Alan Smithee (played passably by Eric Idle) who sees his movie ruined by the producer played by Ryan O’Neal. Traditionally, a director who wants to take his name off a film replaced it with the name Alan Smithee, but because Smithee’s name is Smithee, he feels trapped and resentful. (It’s like Eszterhas has never heard of Cordwainer Bird). Anyway, Smithee steals the negatives and threatens to destory it unless he gets final cut. This sends Hollywood into an uproar and we see played out before us the factions of producers vs. writers vs. actors vs. crew vs. press vs. etcera. He gets help from the Brothers Brothers (played by Coolio and Chuck D who are probably the most convincing actors in the movie), but there are forces at work. Scary forces. Hollywood forces.
It’s a movie only Eszterhas could make by having a reputation of being a bit of an jerk to begin with, but a highly successful jerk. He’s penned some awful movies, but he made a crapload of money doing so. I’ve been fascinated by him ever since reading his Devil’s Guide to Hollywood and Hollywood Animal. This is a man who doesn’t care about burning bridges because he got out of town. And he’s probably still making money by the truckload.
Good for him.
Is it a recommendation? Only for fans of the movie industry. You struggling screenwriters, filmmakers, actors even…you may get a kick out of this. It’s short, tho. If you’re more a popcorn movie fan, you won’t care.
Today’s link goes to the blog of Ben and Yumi Ohmart. Ben is the publisher of Bearmanor Media books and I’ve been working with him since 2001 and this year we’re partnering up with the soon-to-be-announced Project X. Ben’s living in Japan right now and his frequently-updated blog presents glimpses into his new life near Kyoto. The picture shown here is typical from his blog–snapshots of everyday things he comes across. This is a food stall featuring eel alongside a path to a nearby temple.