Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 480 - Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

I have real sympathy for anyone who went to see this film thinking they were going to see a normal, linear actiony-comedy movie.  Because what Harmony Korine has done is made one of the most expensive experimental art films that has been released in recent years.

The story of four college women (girls) who go "wild" on spring break, get arrested, and then hook up with a gangster rapper is a pretty simple one.  But the real film is in the telling of the story.  When the film opens we're inundated with the debauchery of spring break.  It's both titillating and sad.  This is where the girls want to go to?  And they can't even afford it.  So they turn to robbery.  In a normal Hollywood film, this heist would be glamorized to the nth degree. Here it's hidden the first time we see it - we catch glimpses here and there.  But when we see it in flashback, it's what it probably would look like in real life - ugly.  But Spring Break is the objective, so off they go.  Drinking and drugs and promiscuity are the main courses, and eventually it catches up to them, and they're carted off to jail.

At which point it becomes the James Franco show.  As the gangster rapper Alien, Franco creates a character that is so hypnotic that any of the films previous faults (like lethargy) are completely forgiven.  He is a captivating monster.  Every time he appears onscreen or says something you feel like you're in for a treat.

This movie has been advertised on the strength of its leading ladies.  For a lot of young 'uns, seeing Selena Gomez or Vanessa Hudgens cavorting in bikinis and waving guns is more than enough to get them to the theater.  But their characters are barely even characters. Almost all the girls are interchangeable, with Gomez given at least the tiniest bit of backstory to differentiate herself from the others.

And that may be the point.  The less we care about the characters the more the film can just objectify them.  As I said, the film is not the most linear of pieces.  With time jumps, hand held cameras, and repeated lines the film is less interested in story than it is in style.  I may never care what the girls' story is, but I was swept up in their escapades.

I left the theater thinking that about 80 percent of the audience probably hated the film, thinking they were hoodwinked.  But that other 20 percent had their minds blown by the fact that they thought they were going to see "girls gone wild with guns" and got something they would never see on their own.  And then they had the added attraction of seeing James Franco with enough grill in his mouth to rival that of Lil' John.

Was Harmony Korine playing a joke on us using "innocent" actresses in a movie that glamorizes debauchery and violence?  Probably.  But it was at least a funny and clever joke.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 477 - Horrorhound Weekend

I've been to San Diego Comic-Con, Mid-Ohio Con, C2E2, Cinema Wasteland and previous Horrorhound conventions.  I have never waited in line to get into any of those conventions for more than an hour... until this weekend's Horrorhound.  And my experience only relates to Friday's show.  But I waited outside, to simply get into the convention, for 3 hours.  The show opened at 5PM, and Jason (a patient saint) and I finally got inside around 8PM.

I have no problem with the convention itself.  I had a great time for the three hours that I spent inside the building.  I got (almost) all the autographs I was hoping to get.  But that was all I was able to do.  I made a quick pass through the vendor rooms, but I really didn't have time to browse.  An extra two hours may have been a more profitable two hours for some of those guys.

I expect to wait in line for autographs when I go to a convention.  I don't mind waiting for 3 hours to meet someone I really appreciate as an actor, actress, director or writer.  But waiting for 6 hours for that same autograph (regardless of the company you're keeping) is too much.

Horrorhound changed venues this time to a larger location.  It was a good move.  But I have to imagine there were more entrances into the building other than the one (one!) everyone was herded into.  Different doors for different ticket holders would have to get people to move through the line quicker (I have to imagine).

Some of the complaints from other people who've attended seem to place the blame on the fans of The Walking Dead.  When you have a half dozen actors from one of the most popular shows on television (and it's not a niche show with those ratings), obviously a lot of people are going to want a "piece" of them.  But I've read things saying that these attendees aren't true horror fans.  Well, you know what?  The Walking Dead is a horror show.  Zombies, exploding heads, arrows through the eyes, and social commentary... sounds like some of the best horror movies I've seen.  And the more people who watch things like this the better it is for all of us.  That means more networks are going to try more outrageous shows.  Of course some of them are going to be crap, but maybe something just as good or better will come along.  But a fan of Norman Reedus has the same right to attend one of these shows as a fan of Sig Haig.

But enough negativity. I had a blast at the convention (once I got in).  The three hour wait to get in was alleviated by the fact that I got to hang out with one of my best friends, Jason, and the young lady who was with us.  We never got her name, but that was okay.  Her conversation made the wait go by a lot faster than it could've.  Jason kept nudging me - "get her number."  But we both knew that wasn't going to happen since she was married.  (But we did get to complain about the fact that some of the women that we've met would seem to be perfect for us, except for the fact that they're already in relationships.)

Once we got in the show we headed downstairs.  That's where The Walking Dead cast was, and I wasn't willing to wait in those lines, so it was back upstairs.  The first celebrity I got to meet was Robert Patrick (the T1000 from Terminator 2).  I work with somebody who used to hang out with him back in the day, so we talked about that.  And while I waited in his line, Jason scoped out some of the other rooms.  The buddy system was the perfect way to do this.

Diane Franklin was next.  And she was really the reason I wanted to attend the show.  Better Off Dead is one of the greatest comedies of all time.  But as I told her, she has been in three truly memorable films - Better Off Dead, The Last American Virgin (the most shattering comedy you'll see), and TerrorVision (a movie that combines awesomeness and awfulness in one amazing package).  I bought the last copy of her autobiography in hardcover, and got a picture with her.  But the great thing about getting a picture with her, is that she still has the hat and coat her character wore in Better Off Dead, and she wears the hat while you wear the coat.  After Jason took my picture, he pulled out his wallet and paid the 10 bucks for his own picture, because how could you not?  She was truly great, and I can't wait to read the book.

But the best person I got to talk to was Daniel Roebuck.  Most people know him as the science teacher who blew up on Lost.  I was originally going to have him sign by my review of The River's Edge because he's truly terrifying in that film, but once I realized he was in Dudes, one of the coolest movies no one has ever seen, I had to get him to sign by that (3 star) review.  Then we had a long conversation about Cavegirl, one of those terrible 80's flicks that I just can't get enough of.  We talked for a good chunk of time, and it's one of the reasons why I try and go to these events.  Just a nice guy.

And I finished off the show with meeting the director of TerrorVision, Ted Nicolaou, and he told me why Gerrit Graham wasn't on the "Making of TerrorVision."  (He was filmed, but the sound was bad so it wasn't used.)  And I finally got Bill Mosely (Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) to sign my review notebook.  He seems to be at a lot of these shows, and it was about time that I met him.

So, was it worth it?  Heck, yeah!  Would I liked to have a chance to look through the dealer rooms?  Yeah.  But that's the convention's fault.  Sorry guys.  Not my fault.  But, hey, Cinema Wasteland is in 2 weeks.