Monday, July 7, 2008

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Days of W

Before the wasted effort that was Hancock last Tuesday, I was able to enjoy at least two days of uninterrupted cinema awesomeness. There's something magical, apparently, about the 23rd letter of the alphabet. My name, of course. The Waldorf-Astoria, which made a salad that inspired one of the greatest episodes of Fawlty Towers. Then, of course, there's the double-header of WALL-E and Wanted.

Can Pixar do no wrong? Just a year after I proclaimed Ratatouille to be the greatest animated film ever made, along comes this charming story of a garbage-crushing robot that falls in love with a lady bot after years of solitude. Naturally, this leads to a spaceship populated by the Earthlings who fled the dying Earth centuries ago, and now find themselves to be morbidly obese, dependent on machines, and voiced by Kathy Najimy and Jeff Garlin. We learn a little about saving the Earth, our shallow natures, la-di-dah.

The love story is as touching as they come. It is, perhaps, the most realistic romance to come out of the House of Mouse. EVE is a modern woman--independent, kick-ass, genuinely cares about her job--but stands by her man when he needs her. Interesting, actually, that it does work out that way: she really doesn't need him, but he definitely needs her. It's a "woman behind the man" story, after all, like the Osbournes. Using the music of Hello, Dolly! as background is not only endearing, but--like Woody Allen using Gershwin to underscore Manhattan--surprisingly appropriate. It's a reminder of the power of a Broadway tune.

And yes, there are important lessons to learn. And everyone should take notice. Leaving the theater, the parking lot was crowded with birds picking at scraps of litter: unfinished sodas, shopping bags lazily discarded, ticket stubs to WALL-E. So apparently, not everyone took the eco-friendly message to heart, but it was first time I ever shake my head at the state of things. And picked up trash.

It's a visual stunner, of course. Lucky enough to see it in Digital, I was in absolute awe of what the Pixar animators created. Until the people show up, you could almost swear it was live-action. The trick of the light, the rattling of pebbles, the dusty film over an abandoned refrigerator are lovingly and painstakingly recreated. It's downright shocking.

Thomas Newman's score is also damn good, as is the song over the end credits. ****

What a different movie this was. James McAvoy with an American accent? Morgan Freeman throwing out f-bombs? Violence being glorified in a Hollywood movie? Okay, maybe not that last part, but the whole thing is pretty shocking.

Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) is a pathetic accountant who learns that he is an assassin by heredity. Now, at first, I rolled my eyes. "Killing's genetic?" I thought. "Laaaaaame." I guess the movie heard me, because it proceeded to show me how not lame that was. Not lame at all.

Blondes get fucked. Bosses get yelled at. A keyboard smashes into someone's face, the letters F-U-C-K-Y-O-U falling out in slow-mo. Angelina Jolie gives us a glimpse of that magnificent ass of hers. Bullets curve into people's heads. Rats are used in a fashion I would never have thought of, much less put into a movie. It's exciting, exhilarating, fun, bad-ass, sexy, and so on, and so on.

True, there were a few moments where Timur Bekmambetov's direction took me out of the film. I want to say it was the first car chase scene, when I almost threw up. Or the railway-foot-chase scene, when I almost threw up. Still, I was not falling asleep as I did during the insufferable NightWatch, so it was at least a step up.

Look, I'll just come out and say it: I loved it. If you don't love it, revoke your Man License. It's got the Holy Trinity: Broads, Bullets, and Morgan Freeman. It distracts you from everything else going on in your life, and it makes you want to learn to shoot a gun. Mission accomplished, I'd say. ****
And here is the rest of it.

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