Saturday, May 14, 2005

What's Funnier: Dennis Miller, or Catwoman? I Pick Suicide.

USA, 2004

As a film reviewer, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. What to say about Catwoman that hasn’t already been said? Months after its theatrical release, and weeks after its premier on home video, and I’m just now sitting down to watch, jumping into the game far later than most critics. As a result, most of the good shots have already been taken, so making fun of this movie feels kind of like beating up a retarded kid after he’s fallen down a flight of stairs: fun, but unnecessary. Everyone knows this movie sucks, and everybody knows why it sucks, so going over the major points of its failure risks the same redundancy that forced every major newspaper to run a review that somehow incorporated a cat-related pun in the headline. There’s no point in remarking upon the script’s ridiculous inanities and clear lack of proof-reading, the level of craftsmanship in the acting closely akin to that of dinner theatre performed by wait-staff, or the CGI lifted straight from bad Playstation games. Rather, the pleasure lies in picking apart the small details, that might go unnoticed to an average viewer stunned into lowered brain activity by the abominable dialogue, that piece together like painted tiles to form an enormous mosaic of crap. For example, the editing. Editor Sylvie Landra, apparently fearful that allowing a shot to stay on screen for more than two seconds would allow the audience to register their displeasure, keeps the edits moving at a pace roughly approximating a heart palpitation. Or, the supporting cast. Usually, the critical barbs are leveled at the two leads, with Halle Berry taking top shots for her struggle to find the fine line between sexy confidence and drunken college student slutty, and Sharon Stone coming in second with her marvelously one-dimensional portrayal as the evil corporate head bent on world domination through disfiguring and corrosive make-up. But there are others equally deserving of scorn. Alex Borstein, whom alert viewers may recognize as the brutally irritating Ms. Swan from Mad TV, drew much of my ire as Berry’s over-sexed coworker, Sally. How a person of her girth becomes oversexed in a society that judges beauty based upon how many ribs are visible through a girl’s clothing is beyond me, but the writers keenly avoid any hint of progressiveness regarding how fat people have needs too by making her lust an object of comic relief rather than a realistic character trait. Then, we have Benjamin Bratt, who quit playing a cop on a good TV show so he could play a cop in bad movies. He plays a cop. He’s been doing it long enough that he can do it well, though he looks pretty bored. As, I might add, am I. Writing about this movie is almost as boring as watching it, and the longer I go, the more the image of Halle Berry saying things like “purrrr-fect” with a miraculously straight face threatens to haunt my dreams, and not in the sexy way. In the drunken college student way.

Dennis Miller: Black & White
1990, USA
Jim Yukich

This early Dennis Miller stand-up is plucked right from the prime of the comedian’s career, prior to his becoming a foam-lipped mouthpiece for the Republican party. That said, it must be noted that his prime period is not all that prime, it’s just the point in his stand-up history where his undeniably scathing cynicism was perfectly balanced with his equally undeniably ability to becomes instantly annoying the moment his first pop-culture reference hits home. This makes for a sort of zero-sum viewing experience, where you leave the film in the same state in which you found it, neither markedly better nor worse of a person. Now, I’m generally a big fan of the reference. When used properly, in can come as a reward to trivia hounds, a sly nod to geeks, geniuses, and that nameless group of people who memorize the episode numbers of the original Star Trek series in broadcast order. However, there’s a reason the simile is a literary device. It can be amusing, even hysterical, in its written form, provided it’s in the right hands, say a Michael J. Nelson, Steve Martin in essay form or even, god forbid, George Carlin. But in stand-up, which functions best when it comes off as a sort of unrehearsed, off-the-cuff, conversational performance, nothing kills the mood more than an act that sounds like footnotes to the annotated collection of Lewis Black jokes. It instantly draws the audience’s attention to the fact that the material has been slaved over for months with a pen, pad, ten years’ worth of People Magazine and a stack of 70s TV shows. Nevertheless, it is funny, references or no, though you can spot the nascent right-wing reactionary madman lurking behind the ‘libertarian’-based comedy. And if, like me, you’re the kind of person who enjoys irritating your significant other by explaining each and every reference in a loud stage whisper like she hasn’t lived with you for three years and therefore absorbed the majority of your useless pop-culture trivia via osmosis, then this is the movie for you.


Anonymous the sayer of the truth said...

ash, never forget that no matter how bad catwoman is its still a million times better than anything thats ever been produced by that ludicrous joke that goes by the name of the british film industry.

7:59 a.m.  
Anonymous the sayer of the truth said...

because, my dear mr. karreau, if i dont keep reminding you there might be a possibility that you could forget, and i`m not prepared to let that happen, thats why i`ll be telling you that the british film industry is an abomination that must be destroyed with malice-afore-thought and extreme prejudice from now until the cows come home, and now i`ll let you get back to those naked picture of heather o`roarke, i wish i could get my hands on some of those !!!

8:15 a.m.  

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