Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gonzo the Not-So-Great

by Odienator

Once again, it's Odie On Demand at Roger Ebert's Movies on Demand blog. This time, I review Beware the Gonzo, this generation's answer to 1990's superb Pump Up The Volume. That movie had Christian Slater's career best performance, and played better to me at 20 then it does at 41. I have such affection for it because, to paraphrase Dazed and Confused: I get older but my nostagia stays the same age.

Beware the Gonzo didn't engage me the way Volume did. In fact, Gonzo kind of pissed me off. You can judge for yourself if I were being overly sensitive. Here's a taste:

"Beware the Gonzo" begins with one of those flash-forwarded scenes where something from later in the film is presented to us as a means of foreshadowing. Being out of context, the scene has the tricky role of piquing the viewer's interest while not being a spoiler. It rarely works, and "Beware the Gonzo"'s opening scene is a big spoiler: a beaten up Eddie "Gonzo" Gilman (Ezra Miller) stares into a video camera and tells us that his actions have cost him his best friends, made him lose his girl, gotten him kicked out of school, and almost caused the divorce of his parents (played nicely by Campbell Scott and Amy Sedaris). This is supposed to be an apology to all those he has wronged, but instead, it's one of those politician mea culpas, a whiny "my bad if you were upset" speech that never forgets to be more about its subject than atoning for his wrongdoings. Out of context, it seemed pathetic, but I was willing to grant that I didn't have the entire speech at my disposal. However, it hung over the movie, and as I met the interesting and trusting characters, dread crept in; I kept waiting for the moment when Gonzo would stop being the likeable character he is for much of the film and turns into this destructive monster.

More here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Firing the Help And Shutting Up Little Men

by Odienator

I'm around folks, just not here. I promise a post here soon. In the meantime:

First up: today's piece over at Roger Ebert's On Demand Blog: Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure

"One question I did want "Shut Up Little Man" to answer, though I know it cannot, is "Why are Pete and Ray's interactions funny?" All Ray does is call Pete all manner of unfriendly gay names, and Pete responds with his catchphrase or by getting into fights with Ray. The rants make little to no sense most of the time. Both Ray and Pete cuss incessantly and it seems endless. If an arguing, fussing and cussing household is funny, then I grew up in an episode of Def Comedy Jam. But to me, it's not funny, and this isn't a generational issue. The "Shut Up Little Man" tapes surfaced when I was in my 20's, around the same time as other audio-verite features like The Jerky Boys and radio station prank calls. Twentysomething guys were the target audience, but I never found any of these items very amusing. Perhaps, as one of "Shut Up Little Man"'s talking heads notes, finding amusement in audio-verite requires the human trait of being voyeuristic and nosy about other people. This isn't a trait of mine, because Kitty Cat, I know what happens to nosy fellows."

More here.

Second, my takedown of The Help over at Big Media Vandalism. I don't hate it like many do, but I also don't love it like many more do, either.

"The Help has been kicking ass at the box office for 2 weeks, and in that time, I’ve read numerous articles defending its subject matter and its storytelling device. Some of these pieces have been extremely condescending, with the writer expressing shock—SHOCK!!!!—that some people (uppity Negroes and “liberal” Whites, this means you) would find the film either patronizing or more of the same “Black story told through White characters shenanigans” Hollywood is known to pull.  Equally condescending have been some of the conversations I’ve had, both online and in person, with people who love the film. I’ve been told that I don’t know how to watch a movie, that I went in looking for problems, and that I was just too Black to enjoy the movie. My personal favorite piece of wisdom came from a White colleague of mine, who looked me dead in my redbone face and told me that Kathryn Stockett, The Help’s author, knew more about the Black experience than I did. Granted, Black women had a hand in both our upbringings, but unlike Ms. Stockett’s influential mother figure, mine repeatedly made it clear that she was not my goddamn maid."

More here.