Friday, July 08, 2011

the motion picture show: highlights from my weekly movie column

Dick Dyszel as Mayor Wicker in The Alien Factor.
I've started writing the weekly Popcorn & Candy column, a roundup of the coming week's movies, for DCist. It's at once my most visible gig (who doesn't check movie listings?) and my most ephemeral (who's going to look up what I wrote about a video screening of Night Patrol?). For some reason this column stresses me out more than anything else I write, and perhaps I end up overwriting now and then to compensate.  I'll occasionally highlight some of my P&C blurbs here.


From my first column, Popcorn & Candy: Criss-cross Edition May 26, 2011. You can see from the url that I originally planned to use the subtitle "Why is My Body Changing? Edition," but I shelved that for the following week.

The Hangover Part II
What it is: The start of summer movie season.
Why you want to see it: Drunken blackouts are a primitive form of teleportation. One minute you're tossing back a wine cooler and then BLAM: you wake up in a strange room with a chicken from an advanced civilization that visits hotels in search for human blood. The first Hangover took this bacchanal as a jumping off point for fraternal hilarity and even something that approached human feelings. Director Todd Phillips' sequel ups (or downs, considering on your perspective) the ante with a scenario in which our favorite drinking buddies are teleported to Bangkok.
What to expect: Culturally insensitive hijinks.
What not to expect: A cameo by Mel Gibson, which was scrapped after his very public breakdown last fall. Maybe he should have pulled out The Beaver?

Opens tomorrow within projectile vomiting distance.


White Irish Drinkers. As a commenter pointed out,
this is supposed to be 1970s Brooklyn?
From Popcorn & Candy: Why is My Body Changing Edition, June 2, 2011.

White Irish Drinkers
What is it: A tale of working-class Brooklyn circa 1975.
Why you want to see it: The words, "from the creator of The Ghost Whisperer" send this movie columnist into a cold sweat, but as long as Jennifer Love Hewitt doesn't show up cooing to her carrier-pigeons with a fake brogue, I will try to reserve judgement. Writer-director John Gray cut his teeth making 8mm films in his Brooklyn neighborhood, to which he pays homage with this story of coming of age among alcoholics, mobsters, and The Rolling Stones. Does this melodramatic return to the borough of his birth mean a return to low-budget roots? Or has he never really recovered from that Jennifer Love Hewitt dream sequence with a white tiger?
What to expect: Highly coached Brooklyn accents.
What not to expect: Vajazzle


Euro-Asia Shorts 2011
What it is: A festival of short films from around the globe.

Why you want to see it: Young couples, cantankerous elders, a planet where women are macho and men weak, and a clown that can't make people laugh are just some of the subjects on tap in this sprawling survey. "Five nights. Nine countries. One Theme" -- the last being Men and Women -- is the focus here. How that relates to Cuore di Clown (Clown Heart), (Tuesday, June 7th at the Japan Center on 18th Street) is anyone's guess, but it will only take 14 minutes of your time to find out.
What to expect: Where clown hearts beat, clown tears surely fall.
What not to expect: God willing, Jennifer Love Hewitt.


From Popcorn & Candy: You Are Tearing Me Apart Live Edition, June 9, 2011.

The Room Live
What it is: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero appear in a live adaptation of what some call The Worst Movie Ever Made.
Why you want to see it: Cult hit The Room is not by any measure a Good Movie. But it's a Great Bad Movie. Tomorrow night, the AFI Silver presents auteur Tommy Wiseau in a challenging new medium: live theater. The Room Live promises your favorite scenes as well as new scenes from everyone's favorite possibly Louisianan filmmaker. Will it be a train wreck or a revelation? I'm hoping for the latter, and here's why. What sets The Room apart from your typical midnight cult classic is Wiseau's complete lack of irony. Tommy -- as his fans intimately call him -- never winks at the viewer as if he's letting them in on a joke. He's completely earnest, and completely, heroically himself, despite a nation recoiling in horror at The Room's love scenes. And as strange and silly as his vision may be, he's true to his own star. Tommy's first new work since The Room was last year's short The House That Drips Blood on Alex, and he was the best thing about it. Sadly, he didn't write the self-conscious, knowing script -- you could practically hear the air quotes around any dialogue not spoken by its star. More successful is the recent short video series Tommy Explains it All (assaying, so far, Citizen Kane and Love) which makes the right decision to just let Tommy talk and let the magic happen. And if you go early enough, you can make a double bill of unparallelled aesthetic contrast with our next featured pick. [Diary of a Country Priest, which I saw right before The Room Live with no measurable aesthetic damage to either.]
What to expect: God to forgive you.
What not to expect: To be torn apart.

Read my full review of The Room Live here.


From Popcorn & Candy: Music and Martians Edition, June 16, 2011.

The Stuff
What it is: Schlockmeister Larry Cohen's prescient satire of consumerism.

Why you want to see it: "Pre-swhu-huh?" you may ask. Cohen made his mark with the mutant homicidal baby series It's Alive. Horror movies are often manifestations of deep societal anxieties -- sexual hysteria in vampire movies, mindless consumerism in zombie pictures, growing pains in I Was a Teenage Werewolf, clothing manufacturer's inconsistent sizing practices in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Thus the intelligent B-movie is no oxymoron, and The Stuff is enjoyable, thoughful and just well-acted enough to put the lie to the notion that Psychotronic necessarily equals "bad." A natural fount of bubbling sweet white stuff is found in Alaska and marketed as a dessert. But is the stuff...alive? Michael Moriarty (whose aw-shucks with a hint of menace would have made him perfect for The Killer Inside Me) investigates the titular material's mysterious contents for a rival company, only to find himself face-first in it. Could this satirical story of the killer inside us have foretold 21st century cupcake mania? You will eat a cupcake. You will eat a cupcake.
What to expect: Better acting than you'd think.
What not to expect: To leave The Passenger not yearning for a cupcake.


Dan Coffey said...

Pat, this is great! Congratulations.

pat said...

Thanks Dan!