Gamer is a terrific piece of trash cinema. Neveldine/Taylor’s brilliantly stupid piss-take on Second Life, gaming, the American penal system, and mass media is, in nerd-soundbite-friendly terms, Sin City-era Frank Miller adapting William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Even as the movie played out a fairly inevitable story, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the choices it made along the way, particularly when it came to the bugfuck performance by Michael C. Hall as the big bad, who’s given some of the funniest material a villain has ever had to play with. It’s high octane, smart enough to get by with everything it does and represents the kinetic, fast-and-dirty possibilities of digital cinema at a much more realizable level than any big-budget blockbusters.
Another modestly budgeted film with a high level of polish, District 9 starts off as a documentary-style science fiction film and ends up feeling like a proof-of-concept for the eventual Robotech live-action adaptation. There’s a few very huge leaps the movie fails to make and they nagged at me throughout the second half. Why did the aliens choose to do nothing with the weapons technology they possessed for twenty years before the events of the film? Is there no United Nations? Why bother with the cinema verité approach of the bookending material if you’re just going to have tightly-edited running and gunning over the middle 75% of the film? I can see why many enjoyed the movie — the acting is fine, the script does some interesting things with some of the same themes that Avatar furiously masturbates over, and the special effects were top-flight — but I was left disappointed by the final product’s faux intelligence and inability to say anything new in either of the formats presented.
While District 9 and Gamer both throw more and more at the viewer to varying levels of success, The Hurt Locker keeps things minimal and manages to redefine the modern war movie. Kathryn Bigelow’s a director I’ve long admired (Near Dark is the only modern vampire movie I take seriously) and the way she approaches the stripped-down screenplay is admirable. She tells the story visually, with long passages of near-silence, clipped dialogue, and Barry Ackroyd’s casually elegant cinematography heightening the tension without ever being cheap. In an era of overblown emotionalism, the movie’s lack of speeches and cheap platitudes is refreshing, making the events of the last act even more stunning.
I feel like I’ve shared this before, but Tim Leong linked to it on Twitter and I was reminded of how fascinating and infuriating this piece of Americana is. Apparently you can do an entire Chick-style tract about segregation and how great it is without having a single black person appear on the pages. Metafiction!
Why am I giving away a Starman omnibus? Because I actually wasn’t that crazy about it, even though I liked the first volume pretty OK and I’m fine with not owning a book I didn’t enjoy very much. Why only the second volume? Because whatshername sold the first on Amazon a couple of months ago. So, here we are. Maybe you’ve got the first one already but didn’t buy the second one. Maybe you wanted to get it for a friend. Maybe you just like buying the second volumes of things and wanted to shelve it with Ripley Under Ground and The Two Towers. Anyway, leave a comment that details your favorite second volume of whatever (maybe you like New Coke better than Coke Classic, for instance,) before 12:01AM EST on Saturday, January 30 to qualify for the draw, which is performed using the Random.org number generator.
Before you do that, however, give big ups to Charles Schneeflock Snow, a local cartoonist who won Robert Crumb’s adaptation of the Bible’s book of Genesis.
Terms And Conditions
Please note that because of shipping costs, this contest is for residents of the United States of America and Canada. You must leave your email address with your comment to qualify, as I’m not going to spend any time hunting down someone who didn’t want to be contacted about their amazing prize. One comment per person and yes, I will know if you cheat.
“In the criminal justice system, primate-based offenses are considered especially awesome. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these ridiculous felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Simian Victims Unit. These are their stories.”