Posts Tagged ‘Juno’

vanishing point

Vanishing Point: I dig neither speed nor metal. The combination of both on a desolate highway gets me as excited as a rabid wolverine at a veggie salad bar. This is why I used to sneer at anyone who asked me watch Richard Sarafian’s Vanishing Point. Imagine…a film about a half-maverick half-psychotic driver called Kowalski who is set to deliver a 1970 Dodge Challenger drives from Colorado to San Francisco with a tagline that says “it’s the maximum trip at maximum speed”. Hell, I thought I’d be laughing during the course of film, thinking about when some shitty Kenny Loggins song is going to disrupt an even shittier chase sequence.

Vanishing Point is probably the only film about cars that I have ever liked (apart from Rajasekar’s Patti Sollai Thattathe which kinda ruled). Finally I have something intelligible to utter other than ‘oh wow’ or ‘uhhh I see’ whenever my friends or colleagues start babbling about Choppers, Porsches and that questionably invigorating vrooooom sound that one of those BMW cars make. Instead of pretending to give a shit, now I can try my best to look cool and say, “go watch Vanishing Point fuckers.” Having said that, avoid the 1997 remake with Viggo Mortensen like you would the monkey plague, it makes Torque seem watchable.


The sound production and cinematography were two of the biggest reasons (along with the storyline or rather the lack of one) as to why the original seemed vastly superior. The sound reminded me of those old Seventies rock albums on audiotapes… frantic, crafty and a little murky, but attractively so. The soundtrack  itself is all kinds of awesome; little surprise it is that Quentin Tarantino hails this film as one of his inspirations. On the visual front, cinematographer John Alonzo has had his way with the vast landscape of the highway and the sweltering sun up in the sky; no real surprise that over the next few decades, he would continue to inspire beauty in visually-stunning films such as Chinatown and Grass Harp. The detour that the driver takes into the sandy desert is beautifully done, with the tyre marks forming mysterious patterns that make a whole of sense when seen in retrospect. I’m also really glad that the Kowalski character (aptly played by Barry Newman) wasn’t prone to theatrics; no overtly heroic deeds, no moral dilemma and mercifully, no ‘ooh naked lady on the bike, must woo and screw” and “dam rattlesnake, must kill you with my fingernails” scenes.

super soul

Blind radio jockey Super Soul (Cleavon Little), free-spirited chopper rider Angel (Timothy Scott) and the Prospector (Dean Jagger) play the kind, decidedly crazy souls who come to Kowalski’s aid. Despite the redundancy of their collective liberal state of mind, they really do fit in with the grander scheme of things – Kowalski’s journey. Let me pull the curtains down on this one with a comment by some bloke called Tom Darwin from IMDB…“stop wondering why Kowalski, on his quest for speed, is always being overtaken and passed by other vehicles; just put your brain on neutral, put your popcorn where it’s handy, and buckle up.”


Lymelife: Indie films make me feel all fuzzy and warm. No matter how emotionally overblown or fantastically silly they are, most of them are perfect precursors for lazy Sunday siestas. The commonalities between them range from the lucidity in which the frames move from one to another and gratuitously ambitious soundtracks chockfull of bisexual alt-country guitarists to anticlimactic and most often abrupt endings and random A-list guest appearances. Some of them become so full of themselves that they actually end up making that uneasy transformation into big-screen blockbusters; even so, they still remain cutely apologetic of such popularity. Case in point, Little Miss Sunshine and Juno to a lesser extent. Derick Martini’s Lymelife is one of the least interesting indie films I have seen over the past few years, but that probably has more to the do with the quality of similar films. While it doesn’t even begin to sniff the greatness that is the list of indie gems such as Station Agent, Mean Creek, Thumbsucker, Igy Goes Down and many others, Lymelife still gets a minor thumbs up on the weight of few its actors.

Cynthia Nixon doesn’t count because she is a regular on that terrible sitcom. Oh yes people, there are certain things artists do that just cannot be forgiven. She could crap Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony Movement on cue, but I’d still hold that ‘Sex In The City’ card against her. Alec Baldwin is convincing as the assholish husband, but in the later parts of the film when he has to be more of a husband than an asshole, it seems a little less believable.


The cake, if I had any, would undoubtedly go to Kieran Culkin who plays Jimmy Bartlett, a kid desperately seeking a young lassie by the name of Adrianna (Emma Roberts) and solace from his dysfunctional family. Timothy Hutton has a neat role too; he plays the Lyme-diseased Charlie Bragg who suffers just as many migraines as bouts of nagging from his wife. Most of all, I dug the ending and its lack of melodrama. Sort of like the Requiem For A Dream climax, but without the drug-infested gloom permeating the piteous decay of humanity.

The Big Nothing: Almost everyone reading this by now probably knows at least three of Ross’ girlfriends. They’d never admit it because lord knows – it is seriously uncool for an intellectual to confess to having seen at least one million out the eleventy billion episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Who in their insidiously pretentious mind in fact would? For someone who can probably hold his own in a trivia about the sitcom, I can safely say that Ross was one of the few characters I could watch without feeling the urge to stick a café mocha up my superfluous ass. I even liked that Run Fat Boy Run movie that had David Schimmer directing Simon Pegg and Hank Azaria! I like this one better and it has Mr Pegg in it too, but funnier, darker and more in tune with what made him completely awesome in Shaun Of The Dead.

Big Nothing

In Jean Baptiste Andrea‘s The Big Nothing, Schwimmer plays Charlie, a former professor who gets fired on his first day at a call center. Enter Gus (Simon Pegg), a scam artist who almost isn’t clever enough to count as one and former pageant queen Josie (Alice Eve) who convince Charlie to join them in a seemingly “snag-free plan to make some cash” involving Internet porn and men of cloth.


Of course things go wrong; with hearts, promises, arms, words and skulls broken all at once. The climax did take more turns than I had cared for, but the final frame in which…well, you’ll see…works wonderfully well. Schwimmer and Pegg are funny as hell, especially the first time their characters meet. Something about Gus is so perversely pathetic that you want to slap really hard before telling him that things might be ok after all. Charlie is just one of those characters you end up feeling sorry for; then months after watching the film, one fine day you’d wake up finally understanding why you probably shouldn’t have.

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