Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Who knew Tom Cruise harbored such gruesome anti-semitic notions?

As "Les Grossman" studio chief for Ben Stiller's overblown Viet Nam war epic, Cruise is bloated, vulgar and a sort of Jewish sasquatch gone mad on power.
Man can he cut a rug though....
Hitler used to dismiss the Jews as "cunning semi-apes", clearly this is the image Cruise had in mind when he was getting in character to play Grossman.
Yeesh the man still resents all those arguments Spielberg gave him over the merits of psychotropic pharmacology on the set of "War of the Worlds".

Well what of it, the movie IS gut-busting funny, as Brandon T.Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Jack Black , Robert Downey Jr and Stiller all essentially play extreme parodies of themselves as a motley team of a-list actors forced into a firefight with a jungle Southeast Asian drug gang.
Got to hand it to Stiller this time, normally he is a comic narcissisist a'la Jerry Lewis this time however he cuts in his co-stars for a big piece of the humor-action...this is a big artistic step forward for him bringing Ben that much closer to the land of the Gods lorded over by Chaplin and WC Fields.
Particularly enjoyed Jack Black who seems to have decided that his character (a beefy gross out comedian) was nothing more than the sort of actor he'd be if he had made easy-money career choices. In that light, when you see the film pay close attention to the trailer one of Black's faux-comedies...
As for the beef with the developmentally disabled, the r-word gets used freely in this film but only as signifier for the toxic self worship of A-list Hollywood actors.
My only regret is that I did not see this at the Drive In, woulda been well worth it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Othello (Shakespeare & Co Lenox Ma.)

RUN don't walk to see "Othello" out at the S&C's "campus" in Berkshires!
As the Bard's A-list tragedy's go, Othello can be a problem, most productions telephone in the race angle and just let the modern sensibility do the rest. As far as casting goes, you have to hit a trifecta, a strong but not ludicrously bombastic Othello, an Iago who doesn't come off as "Dr. Zachary Smith" and a Desdemona who isn't a bimbo in a whimple.
It is much harder than it looks believe me.
None of that is at issue with S&C's current Othello it is a strong production all the way through.
John Douglas Thompson was born to the part in the fashion of the late Paul Robeson, he is confident, soldierly, manly but fatally cursed with credulity when faced with Iago's subtle Venetian trickery. Most actors when they are called to fake an epilectic seizure, Othello's fugue of despair and jealousy, would come damn close to looking foolish...not Thompson though, he looks like he is dying down there on the floor.
Michael Hammond is also seemingly born to play Iago, full of false good fellowship and a sort of blankfaced false loyalty...Othello is simply no match for him when it comes to this sort of conflict.
And then there is Merritt Janson's Desdemona, as clueless and guileless as her poor Iago she tries a few subtle tricks of her own to get Cassio back into Othello's favor, and for her favor she ends up dead. Janson plays it straight up the middle and wisely avoids the easy path of dimwitted Elizabethan victim.
After the show I ran into a few old friends from my drudgework days at IBM, one of them had never seen Othello before and asked "Is it always a thru the wringer type experience?"
I replied "It is when done right".
Trust me, S&C's "Othello" is done right...I haven't seen the Moor executed at this high a level since Johnny Lee Davenport played him at the old S&C "Stables Theater" at the Mount.
Orson Welles once opined that all good theater is "written on the air" so make tracks for Lenox my friends whilst the air is still good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment

ever got the contract to produce the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, the final product would much resemble the spectacle put on by the People's Republic of China friday night.
The "runner" on the flying harness looked pretty awesome until I remembered that poor Owen Hart fell to his death using a similar aerial gimmick at a WWE show oh so many years ago.
Oh and there would be more bra-and-panty fights...all staged under the noses of the world's leaders.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Alias Atlas Carnegie

The whole Clark Rockefeller affair puts me in mind of a old Simpsons' episode wherein Homer decides to legally change his name as he now shares nomenclature with a idiotic comedy relief character on TV. Before settling on "Max Power" he conjures with "Hercules Rockefeller" among other odd monickers.
SO I dunno obviously "Clark Rockefeller" is an alias, but I suspect a Homer Simpsonish turn of creativity here from "Hercules Rockefeller" to "Clark (KENT) Rockefeller"...subtle big guy, real subtle.
George Orwell once lamented the decline of the "good old fashioned english murder" usually executed in a locked room with plenty of clues to bedevil Scotland Yard. Orwell was incensed that such good solid Sunday afternoon sport had been superceded by gruesome anatomical mayhem of a low and crude sort.
Here in America, kidnapping once the province of the Symbionese Liberation Army and Hollywood celebrities also degenerated into the sordid weapon of last resort in U.S. divorce cases.
Ah well at least the kid is okay and got to see Baltimore's upscale waterfront.

But frankly the man looks like a freak, you wonder how the hell dubious dingbats like this ever get to the altar to begin with.