Thursday, June 26, 2008

George Carlin Dead at 71

By now you've probably heard the news that Mr. Carlin died several days ago on June 22 at age 71. From the reports I read he died of heart failure (and if I read it on the internet I know it must be true). I haven't heard a lot of his stand-up comedy or read a lot of his stuff, but what I have heard and read is pure gold. The man was obviously a very intelligent, very talented guy. What I do remember are his roles in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where he played the blow-job-giving hitchhiker ("Gay, straight, it's all the same. Don't be so suburban.") and to a lesser extent Ben Afleck's dad in Jersey Girl. God speed, George Carlin.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Bourne-Again Fan

Recently I was at my friend’s house and we were just hanging out together like two normal, heterosexual friends and I had the pleasure of watching The Bourne Ultimatum. I know I’m a little behind the times what with the movie being out for a year and all, but I’d still like to comment on the final (or I assume final, but you never can tell this day and age) instalment to the Bourne saga. So after talking about movies based on colourful comic book characters, video games, and watching trailers for upcoming movies my completely heterosexual friend and I each put our pants back on and started watching as Jason Bourne once again kicked some ass. Good, old-fashioned heterosexual ass. Why? What have you heard?

Now it’s been a while since I’ve seen the first two Bourne films, and I remember thinking that they were both solid action films, but lacked a little je ne sais quois, and the same goes for Ultimatum. Now all three movies are merely solid action films, the action in them is top-notch. Especially the fighting. I mean, holy shit! Jason Bourne is a one-man wrecking crew. Now I know that in the “real world” Sarah Silverman is fucking Matt Damon, but in the Bourne movies Matt Damon fucks you. As in, fucks you up. I mean what other movie are you going to see where the hero of the story beats the living shit out of the bad guy with a book? I’d hate to have seen what happened to Jason Bourne’s teachers when he got angry. Math textbook to the jugular!! Brilliant. Then the bad dude grabs a knife, and Bourne grabs a towel. And lays waste to the guy. I can only imagine if the bad guys had a tank. Jason Bourne would simply grab a nearby toothpick and fuck up an entire army. Of pirate, robot zombies. (Yeah, you read that right.)

Now the action part of these films was never in question. They did a superb job of choreographing the fight scenes and the other action elements like that car chase in the cop car. Again, loved it. The thing I didn’t like about the second two films was the camera work. Now Supremacy and Ultimatum are the only two movies I can recall seeing that were directed by Paul Greengrass so I don’t know if his other work shares the same realistic unsteadiness, but I certainly hope not. At times I thought maybe Michael Bay had stepped in. And not the delightful, old-school The Rock Michael Bay. The new-school Transformers Michael Bay who wouldn’t just give me a steady shot of those giant mechanical behemoths. Just one, steady shot. Is that really so much to ask?

The plot was typically Bourne with lots of crazy action. The characters had just enough depth that I could suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy them. (Deep enough to, say, drown a puppy, but not so deep that you could get lost at sea). I wouldn’t say all the characters weren’t two dimensional, but they were enjoyably two dimensional. For some reason Julia Stiles is back as Nicky Parsons. Maybe they kept her around to counterbalance all the raging testosterone in the movie, or because she’s passably hot, or maybe it was some kind of contractual thing. Anyway, her character was a little less pointless in this movie than the previous two, and she hinted that she and Bourne (AKA David Webb) had a relationship (I assume of the sexual kind, though maybe they were roommates in college. Who the fuck cares?) but she was still completely superfluous to the plot. The FBI or CIA (or whatever agency they were fucking from) agents did an OK job, trying to track down Bourne in “real time.”

Matt Damon was good, as usual. He handles the physical stuff really well and I can believe that this guy can physically do the things he’s doing (ie. Damon’s in really good shape. I mean, from a heterosexual point of view. I don’t think about him in that way if that’s what you’re thinking.) Mr. Damon holds his own in some of the most explosive, man-on-man fighting scenes in recent movie history (except, of course, those Spartan warriors from 300. Now there were some naked dudes who were ready to rumble.) Matt Damon is, in my opinion, a great actor who has delivered tremendous performances in Good Will Hunting and The Departed, but this movie didn’t really allow Matt to demonstrate his full range of versatility. Oh well, you do the best with what you have to work with.

When I grow up I want to have trained assassins lying in wait for my enemies all around that. Assassins that will blindly track down and kill whatever name and face appears on their cell phones. I could really go for a couple of “assets” right about now. The whole operation Blackbriar thing and Bourne’s back story are good, and the final scene which mirrors the opening scene of the Bourne Identity very nicely really felt like they were trying to “wrap up” the trilogy (as much as any trilogy is wrapped up these days) and add coherence to the whole series. Overall I really enjoyed the Bourne Supremacy and looking back I realize how solid the other two movies were. And I suppose these movies are as close to the hardcore action movies of the 80’s and 90’s as this generation is going to get. This trilogy is the heir apparent to greats such as Die Hard and Indiana Jones and I suppose they could have had worse offspring. The Bourne Supremacy is a good movie with some straight-up, raging heterosexual action scenes. So for the trilogy as a whole I will give a generous 8/10 = One Bullet-riddled Terrorist Head