Friday, August 28, 2009

Quick Bites: Now Playing, yo. (Taking Woodstock & Big Fan)

Taking Woodstock
opens today

Is your mind ready to get blown?

Even though Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock features free love, an ex-Marine trannie, some f-bombs and a few groovy acid trips, it's still so sweet and bland I would watch it with my grandparents. Mind you, I recently watched Revolutionary Road with my Catholic grandparents, so bring on the uncomfortable silences punctuated by awkward position changes on the couch. I'm not sure if it was Demetri Martin's puppy dog eyes, his sensible slacks and summer sweaters or his quiet revelations and self exploration among hordes of mellow smelly people, but the whole thing was just very nice. Not exactly a word I've heard to describe on of the most far out mass experiences in our fair and free nation's history (except for Woodstock '94, obviously). Men were landing on the moon, legendary performances were being made into a movie, and there is 20 something wannabe interior designer/abstract expressionist painter Elliot (Martin) in the middle facilitating land deals between farmers and visionary granolas backed by suits, accommodating the festival crew and countless hippies at his parents' ramshackle resort where Elliot's hand-painted signs are better cared for than the actual rooms. Don't even ask if the sheets are clean; they certainly aren't.

The movie feels very far from reality and history, which is OK most of the time. Some presentism rears its head in the form of a joke about people paying for water and some Avant-garde theater performers clearly wearing American Apparel gold lame bikini tops. This is not so much an attempt to recreate the hippie experience but a celebration of the positive side. No one has a bad trip and conflicts are minor and resolve quickly. It's a feel good film, well crafted with a funny heartwarming script. It's also really tame. But, the biggest surprise is that Martin can act. He's stays in familiar territory and some of his lines are obviously inspired by his own comedy, but he pulls off the bits that make him stretch a bit.

So, grab your favorite boomer (as long as they're cool, man) and head out for some mild rehashing bordering on the cliche of a seminal American experience. Who would have thought that we've reached a point in history when a feel good mature family movie is made about sex, drugs and rock and roll?


Big Fan
opens today

Go team! Football is so much better than dating women, isn't it?

OK, I don't like football. I think it's dumb and I respect the players even less. Sorry. I am a wuss. I like baseball, tennis and baseball. I like when players from opposite teams chat with each other and I like at the end of a tennis match when the players hug. I just prefer my sports a little more low key, you know.

That said I also didn't like Big Fan, starring a very bloated and sad Patton Oswalt, who I usually like very much. Written and directed by the same dude who penned The Wrestler, Big Fan got good buzz at Sundance for some reason. Oswalt's backed by the creepy and usually very funny Kevin Corrigan, but in Big Fan these two football nerds are just sad, lonely, mildly retarded idiots that manage to be both pathetic and unlikable. Paul (Oswalt) and Sal (Corrigan), bored one evening, follow their fav whatever the opposite of a quarterback is from Staten Island to Scores and Paul ends up getting beaten up by the man who hangs in poster form over Paul's bed.

Legalities and trauma ensue, but the main problem is that The Giants suck while said QB killer is suspended during the investigation. So, Paul, 33, has posters of football players on his wall and spends his lonely evenings after he gets finished his terribly dead-end parking lot attendant job calling into an AM sports talk show before his date with a bedside bottle of lotion. Sad and depressing can often lead to some good comedy, but despite great talent and some good set ups the movie is just sad and depressing. And I'm not even convinced of the characters' dedication to the actual game of football. I'm sure I'm missing something here that f-ball folks may get, but as a movie it's ugly, dark, filled with pointless build-ups that go nowhere and meaningless dream sequences. I guess I'm just not a fan of this flick and bet you won't be either.


Coming Soon:
Mike Judge's Extract (it's no Office Space -or even Idiocracy - so be warned), World's Greatest Dad (featuring a waxed Robin Williams, written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait) and other flicks and topics.

Have a super weekend everybody!