Monday, Oct 14, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website




 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 21, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 25
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Glitter in their eyes - Sofia Coppola's Bling Ring is an unflattering portrait of celebrity obsession
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

THE BLING RING
Opens June 21


I'm not sure what to write about Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring. The movie is as observationally distant as many of her previous films, especially Somewhere and, to a lesser extent, Lost in Translation, looking at its vapid, materialistic, fame-obsessed central group of teenage reprobates with the same disaffected malaise they themselves project. It's aggressively nonjudgmental, the film choosing to view its protagonists with a detached superficiality that doesn't connect emotionally but still manages to pack a major, uncomforting wallop all the same.

And that's probably the point. A somewhat fictionalized recounting (based on a 2010 Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo Sales) of how a gang of suburban Los Angeles teens managed to casually steal more than $3 million in clothing, jewelry, and cash from a group of well-known targets including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, and Audrina Patridge, the movie looks at the growing prevalence of Internet-based youth culture and its infatuation with celebrity in a way that feels disturbingly authentic. Coppola doesn't mince words, doesn't take sides, and doesn't try to prove a point, allowing the shallowness of the act and the vainglorious myopia fueling it to speak for itself.

MIXED EMOTIONS
Thing is, I'm not sure that makes the movie entertaining. For that matter, I'm not certain it's even good. I did not like spending time with these kids. I didn't enjoy being a part of their world. What they were doing, their outlook, how easily they allowed themselves to be manipulated, the complete lack of a moral compass, all of it ate at me in a way I can't entirely put a finger on. It was ugly and distasteful, and what it ends up saying about the human condition is a theorem that part of me would rather not be forced to contemplate.

On the other hand, Coppola does just that and more with such ease, with such subtle exactitude, with such principled precision, the overall effect might just border on genius. Nothing feels out of place, no single scene out of whack or without context. The voyeuristic carnality of it all - our innate need to watch, to see, to experience our own base desires and wants through the success, failure, and excesses of others - all of that is tapped into and fed. More, much like Spring Breakers and Pain & Gain, and to an additional extent last year's Killing Them Softly, Coppola has given the American Dream a serious wakeup call, showcasing the dark underbelly of modern me-first society in a way that taps directly into the current ephemerally small-minded zeitgeist that's sadly too often all the rage.

POLISHED PRODUCTION
It should be pointed out that the movie looks amazing. In what sadly is his final film, cinematographer Harris Savides (Zodiac), working with Christopher Blauvelt (Meek's Cutoff), paints things with a piercingly clinical lens, the digital sheen of wasted youth gorgeously magnified within each and every frame. The picture is also vividly edited by Sarah Flack (Away We Go), the diametrically polarized pieces fitting together in a way that manages to keep the central tangents center stage while allowing the background commentary to come through with upsetting clarity.

The cast, by and large, comprises newcomers. Katie Chang and Israel Broussard slip into the insubstantial shells of the instigating ringleaders with sinister transparency. It's easy to understand how the former could so easily stage-manage the latter, his lack of confidence coupled with her self-centered views on privilege and wealth melding to craft the almost perfect teen-burgling field general. They're terrific, tapping into Coppola's views on this event with canny understanding, Chang and Broussard breaking through in a way that couldn't help but catch me a bit off-guard.

WATSON, MANN SHINE
Of the established faces, the two most notable - and noteworthy - are Harry Potter alum Emma Watson and Judd Apatow regular Leslie Mann. Each make the most of what they're given to do, Watson in particular, her casual, cursorily haughty cadence fitting her character (based on real-life 'Bling Ring' participant and 'Pretty Wild' reality star Alexis Neiers) to perfection. Each actress manages to ground things in a tactile honesty that makes the events cascading toward tragedy around them resonate on a deeply unsettling level, both parent and child living in a world detached from normalcy, yet one that at the same time felt all too commonplace.

I can't admit to liking what The Bling Ring has to say about modern youth culture. I also can't say I felt my time sitting in the theater watching Coppola weave her ignominious web was something I enjoyed. But when I step back, when I choose to look at the picture on a grander scale, part of me can't fathom the thought of having been anywhere else. And an even larger part of me can't wait to sit through it all - every despicable, skin-crawling, self-loathing moment - again.


It's alive! - Zombie-filled War puts humanity front and center
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

WORLD WAR Z - Opens June 21

I'll admit right from the start that I have not read author Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I cannot comment on how director Marc Forster's (Quantum of Solace) adaptation World War Z, scripted by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom), Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), and Damon Lindelof (Prometheus), with a story by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski (Underworld: Awakening), compares. But according to those I know and trust the only thing the movie version has in common with its literary counterpart is the title, and the fact that it treats a zombie outbreak as a universal pandemic. The similarities stop right there.

Honestly? I'm OK with that. Truth of the matter is that I got a major kick out of World War Z, the zombie-infused procedural playing much like an adrenalized B-grade reinterpretation of Contagion or The Andromeda Strain and I can't say I was bothered by that one little bit. The movie hits the ground running and then refuses to let up, moving along with pinpoint precision building to a quietly chilling conclusion that some will undoubtedly consider slight but that I felt was emotionally honest and borderline refreshing. In an age when bombast and chaos rule (see Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, or countless other similar-scale blockbusters for proof on that count), Forster and company go in a direction that's far more intimate and personal, staying true to their main character's central narrative in a way that's moderately surprising.

I understand this wasn't always the case. The movie was delayed more than six months for extensive reshoots, apparently instigated by producer/star Brad Pitt, the whole last third completely rewritten and re-engineered after test audiences didn't respond kindly. A reported $200 million or more was spent on this behemoth, columnists suggesting Pitt and Forster locked heads and the way things in the film climax have more to do with the former than they do with the latter - the director almost given his walking papers if some reports are to be believed.

But I can only talk about the movie itself, and whatever internal conflict there might have been and however chaotic, behind schedule, and over-budget the shoot might have proven to be, there are precious few signs of this madness in the finished product. The movie moves with precision and tenacity, its strength of focus its single greatest asset. It has undeniable urgency that is mesmerizing, the air of tension hovering above the proceedings enough to keep me happily glued to my seat for nearly every second of its almost two-hour running time.

WHO IS THIS GUY?
Not that I mean to say all is perfect. Character development takes a back seat to the world-shattering zombie Armageddon, and the central concept of former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) dragged back into service to investigate the outbreak's beginnings while longing to get back to his beloved wife (Mireille Enos) and kids (Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins) is not exactly complex. What's more, there are times when, as Lane trots around the globe, going from Korea to Israel to Nova Scotia in what feels like the blink of an eye, it isn't entirely clear what his qualifications for this assignment are, or why he's seemingly the only one on the planet capable of succeeding. While his observation skills are second-to-none, it isn't as though he's a trained soldier (he could be, I guess, but nobody ever says so, even in passing) or a super-smart scientist (the fact of which is repeated throughout), so it's anyone's guess as to why he's the key man in solving the riddles of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Be that as it may, this film worked for me. Lane thinks on his feet and makes decisions on the fly, never wavering from his mission while still holding out hope he can find a solution. More, the movie comments on zombie conventions and then gleefully subverts them, one one-handed survivor in particular going against the grain of genre cliché in a way that feels daringly authentic.

But the best thing about World War Z is how willing it is to get quiet, how open it is to slow things down and not let events get overrun by spectacle. While there are some gigantic moments, while certain sequences of zombie chaos - most notably an invasion inside a walled-off Israeli stronghold - are stunning, Forster, Pitt, and company allow the movie to take breaths, allow it to grow calm even as mayhem and madness do their best to overwhelm the proceedings. In a summer where destruction and devastation have ruled, they've had the temerity to craft a mega-budgeted blockbuster that remembers to keep the human element at the forefront, the heart of the piece beating with a strength and resilience that I borderline adore.


Graduation with horrors - Jovial Monsters prequel is a breezy bit of family-friendly fluff
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Opens June 21

As much as I adore 2001's Monsters, Inc., and that's a massive understatement - it's a Pixar classic - I cannot say I was jonesing for a new adventure featuring wisecracking Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his colossal blue teddy bear of a best friend, James P. Sullivan (John Goodman). Where would the story go? What could possibly come next? Would we even care if there were a next? The reality was that the story being told was magnificent, revealing a warmth, intimacy, and understanding that was sublime. Bringing back Boo or trying to piece together a new scenario would potentially cheapen the original's perfection.

I give Disney and Pixar a tiny bit of credit for realizing a sequel wasn't the best idea. Rather than follow up the events of the first film, they instead made the conscious decision to go backward and show what Mike and Sulley were like in college. But prequels are always an iffy proposition regardless of the talent level involved - the reality that audiences know what the outcome has to be (otherwise, the original wouldn't exist) is a sticking point very few such attempts have ever overcome.

Yet here's Monsters University giving it a shot, showing how this inseparable pair of expert Scarers got their start and the travails that they encounter on their path to brotherly friendship. And, it must be said, by and large Pixar and company pull it off. While the movie isn't much more than a computer-animated, kid-friendly remake of Revenge of the Nerds, that doesn't make it any less entertaining. As prequels go this is a heck of a lot of fun, filled with inventive sight gags and witty verbal twists of the tongue, and built on a sturdy foundation of interesting multifaceted characters easy to root for - and as such it ends up being worthy of respect.

This does not mean the film is anywhere near as sensational as its predecessor. It's far less complex, isn't interested in resonating on multiple levels and, as already mentioned, features a plot that is as tired as it is rudimentarily familiar. As underdog stories go, there's little new about this at all, and other than a few quirky little touches, as well as a bracingly authentic - some might say educationally dubious - bit of honesty at the end there's almost nothing about this prequel that comes close to being a surprise.

WELCOME NEWCOMERS
Still, there's much to enjoy. While it's a foregone conclusion that Mike and Sulley's initial animosity and jealousy toward one another will slowly morph into friendship, that doesn't mean seeing them get there isn't a freewheeling, energetic ride I was happy to experience. Crystal and Goodman play off one another as rapturously as ever, while new vocal performers like Helen Mirren (the stern, unforgiving Dean Hardscrabble) and Nathan Fillion (the cocky head of Monster U's leading fraternity, Roar Omega Roar) make an immediate imprint, getting in on all the silliness the second they appear.

Best of all, though, are the actors portraying Mike and Sulley's gaggle of Oozma Kappa (OK for short) fraternity misfits who find themselves in a Greek Row smackdown for Scarer supremacy. Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, and Charlie Day are all superb, forming a wonderful group of irregular regulars who fit the mantle of underdogs nicely. Will they be able to use their unique (some might say worthless) talents to good use? Can this forlorn, unappreciated assortment come together as a team? Will they prevail? Are these questions even worthy of being asked?

Actually, in some respects they are, the screenplay by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, and director Dan Scanlon not always following the expected path. While the outcome is inevitable - this is a prequel, after all - how Mike and Sulley get to where we know they have to be isn't always predictable. In fact, a third-act event culminating in the human world comes remarkably close to achieving the same levels of magic and emotional brilliance as Monsters, Inc. manufactured, the level of maturity and understanding on display somewhat staggering.

All of which is terrific, and one can't help but wonder how much better the film itself might have been had the filmmakers chosen to take as many risks during the initial two-thirds as they do during the finale sequences. Be that as it may, and as slight as the majority of this turns out to be, Monsters University is undeniably entertaining, making me laugh and keeping me smiling with breezy ease one moment to the next. While its themes and morals are obvious, and while the outcome is never in doubt, as prequels go it's admittedly pretty darn good, a gift horse from Pixar I'm not inclined to look too critically in the mouth of.




Making transitions - The struggles and triumphs of a Lesbian-Trans couple
------------------------------
Subversive Shakespeare - Tom Stoppard uses two Bard classics to explore communication and censorship
------------------------------
Humor in hard times - Book-It takes a funny/sad look at one family's Great Recession
------------------------------
'Mimosas with Mama' fits nicely at Unicorn
------------------------------
Surviving with style - Gilda's Club Seattle supports community members living with cancer
------------------------------
Cyndi Lauper: Singer, songwriter, ally - The '80s superstar talks about her new tour and activism on behalf of LGBT youth
------------------------------
Beauty behind the scenes - A firsthand account of the Miss USA telecast in Las Vegas
------------------------------
Iron-hearted city - After decades of decline, Pittsburgh coming back strong
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
It's getting hot in Vegas - 'Sin City' heats up as a Gay travel destination
------------------------------
Glitter in their eyes - Sofia Coppola's Bling Ring is an unflattering portrait of celebrity obsession
------------------------------
It's alive! - Zombie-filled War puts humanity front and center
------------------------------
Graduation with horrors - Jovial Monsters prequel is a breezy bit of family-friendly fluff
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2012

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News