Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Don't Play on the Molten Lava

Episode III. Nightmare IV. Really, it's all been downhill since those cute, cuddly Ewoks/Koalas made their appearance in Return of the Jedi.

Revenge of the Sith, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. One, Anakin was a whiny brat before he transformed into the Asthmatic Machine. I didn't buy the whole Anakin transformation, partly because Hayden Christensen is such a wooden actor. But also because the script simply didn't set it up credibly. For all its Greek Tragedy trappings, ROTS ignores one of the primary elements of tragedy: the tragic hero has to be somewhat likeable. This is why you'll never see Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddly Squat starring as Othello. And although George Lucas throws a few lines at Hayden to make him look ostensibly human and sympathetic, the lines are so laughably bad ("No, baby, I love you") that it's hard not to cheer on his downfall and fervently hope that he'll never utter sweet nothings again. It's a wonder that this guy wasn't cruising the intergalactic bars, asking nubile starwomen their astrological signs.

Two, the little green furball. Annoying he is, as always, particularly in his blithering eastern pop psychology. Baba Ram Yoda. We find that once again the beliefs of the Jedi are as fuzzy as the top of the little furball's head. Emotional attachments are bad, but Obi Wan tries one last time to rescue Anakin because he loves him like a brother. Only a Sith deals in absolutes, but the Jedi believe that the Emperor is pure evil. Huh? Let's take up a collection and send the little guy to Logic 101 class, shall we? Here's the first syllogism: 1) All Jedi are lobotomized, babbling buffoons. 2) Yoda is a Jedi. 3) ?

And although I like to see a green puppet kick butt as much as the next guy, spare me the backflips. This is a puppet who hobbles along with a cane. Then turns into Bruce Lee he suddenly does.

Three, the light sabers ad nauseum. I didn't think it was possible, but I was actually bored by all the light saber sequences. Enough already. And the "climactic" light saber duel between Obi Wan and Darthboy? Please. Most evil dark lords know better than to play on the molten lava. Somebody can get hurt that way.

Four, the writing. Oh my God, the writing. Let’s start with the character names. Mace Windu? It’s a glass cleaner. It’s a rapist repellant. It’s both. General Grievous? Hmm, you think he might be a bad guy? Then there is the aforementioned romantic dialogue, in which George Lucas proves that he’s never encountered a genuinely human emotion in his life. Poor Natalie Portman is forced to utter perhaps the most inane lines ever committed to film. "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo," I said to Kate after we went to bed last night. She laughed, which was the same reaction we both had when we first heard the line in the movie. Then she held me like ... well, never mind. At least the day ended well. On the upside, the previews for War of the Worlds looked great, so there is a new hope.


teddy dellesky said...

you've summed up all that i've heard of the movie already. i almost don't want to see it, but have to as its a vital part of my childhood.

on another note...

what do you think of the new south san gabriel? any other exceptional stuff out as of late? my music funds are dry and i'm having a hard time keeping up. a small list of really good new stuff would be welcomed.

Andy Whitman said...

Teddy, I like the new South San Gabriel a lot. I meant to drop off their previous album with you on Sunday, but forgot. I'll try to remember this Sunday. I also have a book about singer Nina Simone that I'd like you to pass on to Megan Crawford.

I've been a in roots rock/alt-country mode of late, at least partly because I have to review a batch of those kinds of albums for the next issue of Paste. But it's one of my favorite genres.

Here's what I've heard lately that's really caught my ear:

Milton Mapes -- The Blacklight Trap -- That's a band name, not a person. This is really just re-warmed Neil Young and Crazy Horse/Uncle Tupelo, but since I'm inordinately fond of that sound, I like it a lot.

Danny Cohen -- We're All Gunna Die -- This guy is a dissolute buddy of Tom Waits, and he sounds like it. His voice can only loosely be described as "singing," but I really like his weird tales (backed by full orchestra in some cases) of dingy hotels, Nostradamus, institutionalized cousins, and Rene Magritte. He has a song called "Coffee is Evil," which will make him unpopular with John McCollum. He moos like a cow. He sings in a damaged falsetto. This is surely one of the strangest album I've heard in a while. But his songwriting gets to me.

Loudon Wainwright III -- Here Come the Choppers -- Man, I love this guy. You can see why Rufus is as damaged as he is. Here he does what he usually does -- write beautifully crafted songs that are funny, acerbic, bitter, and heartbreaking, revealing the open wounds of his life. He's a great songwriter.

That's what's caught my ear of late.

John McCollum said...