Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Three Recommended Movies

1. You may not have heard of Idiocracy, the latest from Mike Judge. That's because after keeping it on their shelf for a while, 20th Century Fox unceremoniously dumped it in a few theatres in only a handful of the major markets, spent what looks like about five bucks on the advertising, didn't screen it for critics, and didn't even assemble a trailer. All that for a guy who brought us the cult classic Office Space, the seminal "Beavis and Butt-head," and "King of the Hill," a show that's been a mainstay on Fox's TV network counterpart for the past 10 years.

Anyway, that's why I should have recommended the movie three and a half weeks ago when it opened and I saw it, not now, when for all I know the Academy theater in Pasadena may be the only place in the country where it's still playing. This thing needs all the help it can get. What it is is a satire about an average guy played by Luke Wilson who finds himself 500 years in the future, where society has devolved into a bunch of drooling idiots obsessed with sex, violence, and name brands. There, he finds that his average intellect makes him the smartest man in the world, and the people of the future appoint him Secretary of the Interior and ask him to solve all their problems.

Is the movie uneven? Yeah. But is there a lot of smart, funny stuff in it that will have you shaking your head at the idiocy in today's society while chuckling for weeks at the many quotable lines? Yes.
2. As is often the case, the inimitable Vern speaks the truth about the new Tony Jaa martial arts movie The Protector, or, as Vern would prefer, Where are My Elephants? I really have no idea how coherent this movie was before the Weinsteins got their hands on it and edited 20 minutes away, but it sure isn't coherent now. The flip side of that, though, is that they basically left us with nothing but wall-to-wall martial arts action. If you missed Jaa's Ong-Bak, this guy has the agility and inventiveness of Jackie Chan combined with the raw ass-kicking ability of Bruce Lee. The acting, script, direction, production values in general, etc. for this thing are all subpar, but trust me here, Tony Jaa is so electrifying that you won't care.

3. If you're wondering what the deal is with the movie ratings system in the U.S., you should really make an effort to see This Film is Not Yet Rated, a new documentary by Kirby Dick (Chain Camera, Derrida) about the Motion Picture Association of America. Dick exposes them as a secretive cabal that claims to allow freedom from government censorship while providing a useful service to families, whereas in actuality they exist to help the major Hollywood studios make as much money as they want while putting a happy face on the movie industry for the American public. The two main problems with the MPAA are that they operate as a secret, faceless, arbitrary bureaucracy that only works openly with the big money in Hollywood while leaving independent artists in the dark, and the fact that by rating movies they become a de facto censorship board, one that is extremely lenient on violence while being excessively harsh on movies that treat sexuality like an adult would. I knew a lot of what was in this movie already, but it lays out its case very well and can serve as a real eye-opener. It's entertaining, too; Kirby Dick is an accomplished documentarian, not just somebody with an axe to grind and a camera.


At Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at 1:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

The distribution of Idiocracy has been nothing less than criminal .. Mike Judge has been absolutely nothing to deserve such shoddy treatment ... I guess I'll have to wait for this one on DVD!

At Thursday, October 5, 2006 at 1:00:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Idiocracy" is also playing at the ArcLight Hollywood, two theaters in Austin, and one in Chicago. But that's it.

At Sunday, October 15, 2006 at 7:24:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What brand of crack were you smoking when you saw Kirby Dick's self-righteous whine THIS MOVIE SHOULD BE RATED R FOR RETARDED? And can you send me your dealer's number.


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