Saturday, August 06, 2005

I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I also enjoyed the experience of the Drive-In, more or less. Their employees were a motley crew, and the snack bar wasn't very inviting. But it's nice to be able to bring lots of food and not have to worry about cell phones and such. And the SUVs in the front row didn't really block my view, though the open hatchbacks got close. And $6 for a first-run double-feature isn't a bad deal. I really don't understand the business model: Do they get some sweetheart deal from the studios to prop up their struggling industry, a tribute to a buygone era? Do the studios just figure that the drive-in is out in the sticks and no one out there will pay for a full-price ticket, so they might as well get something out of them? Does the theatre lose money on ticket sales in order to make it up on concessions (the popcorn was cold and unpleasant, and while it falls into the range I think theatres should charge, it was not exactly a bargain--$2.25 for a small, if memory serves)? Or is it a massive front for something? I best be careful, I would hate to get the Drive-In cartel on my ass.

Anyway, I'll have to go back sometime, if they have a double-bill I'm interested in. As I said, Charlie was pretty good; as far as the portion of the film which occurs outside the factory, it's probably better than the original. The first act of the original really drags. Inside the factory, it's tougher to say, but I give it to the original. They don't improve much (the squirrels are fun), and it just feels a bit rushed and disjointed. I liked the Oompa-Loompa songs, but it's hard to understand them, and as they are supposed to beat you over the head with uplifting moral lessons, the lyrics are important. And the original oompa-loompa songs are classic (the lyrics in the new movie come from the book, apparently--it's been probably close to 15 years since I read the book, but that's what the credits claim). I've never liked Tim Burton as much as I felt like I should, but I liked this film, and consider it second to Pee Wee's Big Adventure in his ouvre (sorry, Beetlejuice, but while your the sentimental favorite, the newcomer edges you out).

The Island, you may be shocked to learn, is an unmitigated piece of shit. For christ sake, you have Scarlett Johansson in your movie, and you don't let her do anything! In fact, all the film is is a long commercial, with the most blatant product placements I've ever seen. I thought maybe they were trying to work some jab at consumerism, using the placements ironically, but no, around the time characters start talking about "MSN Searching" someone, it became pretty apparent it was all about money. Though it definately saved them some cash; characters take a hover-train to L.A., where they ride hover-bikes, yet cars are still exactly the same as they've always been, and happen to be cars currently commercially available. But why compain about the ads when characters fall 80 stories and live, Big Brother can monitor who you talk to and how closely you stand, yet cannot detect that a clone is running around a restricted hospital with impunity, discovering all their secrets, and, again, Scarlett Johansson just stands there looking concerned? I hope the makesrs of Parts: The Clonus Horror sue Michael Bay right out of Hollywood. But really, what was I hoping for? I guess I just resent the fact that the film thinks it is intelligent. Why is their a Picasso painting on the wall of the "Relaxation Room" where the clones are made docile? Picasso is supposed to sooth the soul and render one submissive? And, speaking of that room, why does McGregor's character wonder why the doctor was looking at Johansson's file, and deduce the terrible truth partly from that fact, when almost the sole subject of their conversation is Johansson? Maybe that's why he was looking at the file, Sherlock! Oh, well, next year we appaerently can see Johansson in The Black Daliah, that should be something. One of the most powerful books I've ever read, just made me feel dirty for being alive. Gnarly stuff, and it's taken a long time to get filmed, I'm curious to see if they can pull it off. If only Michael Bay was attached to that project, I could sleep better at night.

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