Monday, May 11, 2009

DJG's Weekend Watcher

Star Trek * * * * *
Directed by: J.J. Abrams / 2009

Modern day father of sci-fi geeks, J.J. Abrams (he’s behind T.V.’s “Lost” and “Fringe” / 2008’s “Cloverfield”) was given the blue prints to a sci-fi kingdom, serving up a plate of classic with a fresh twist. How in the world did Abrams pull off to perfection something like this? His “Star Trek” is a genius work of sci-fi art and the best picture so far of 2009. Admittedly, I grew up a product of “Star Wars” as “Star Trek” always seemed outdated, un-cool and put-me-to-sleep paced. Not until getting married to a fan of the franchise did I see an original series episode in its entirety. Honestly, it still has the ability to put me to sleep, but I really find it quite fascinating and fun. Furthermore, I’m fascinated by the legacy it has impressed on many a mind and other-worldly sci-fi tale. With this explosive and seamless update, Abrams has me wanting to dive deeper into space with the Starship Enterprise. Oh, and I really want George Lucas to hand over the portal to his “Star Wars” galaxy so a fan boy like Abrams can properly restore Episodes 1, 2 and 3.

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid * * * 1/2
Directed by: Sam Peckinpah / 1973

Though I’m a fan of director Sam Pekinpah, I’ve only see a handful of his work. His skilled balance of dynamics with drama, adventure, slight humor, unusual and memorable dialog, swift location and story shifts and underline graphic violence is masterfully executed, even if it feels at times dangling by a thread. But, that’s where I think Peckinpah found his comfort. Not only can his films get a bit uncomfortable but they always offer something unique and bold-plated to come back to, or to chew on you in the night. To me, that feels the work of a master film maker experimenting instead of meticulously pre-crafting a masterpiece and I like that. Now, I’m not well-versed in the art of Peckinpah’s process and I don’t think he took on projects on the fly, nor shot from the hips. I just see him as a nitty-gritty, likable film outlaw who left quite a mark in the dust. “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid” isn’t up there with his best, though it has all of the Peckinpah approved pieces that are expressed even more in films like “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”, “The Wild Bunch” and “Straw Dogs”. His movies can be hard to watch repeatedly, but it’s those awkward and loose moments, even little snips of words or an obtuse camera angle and a lingering moment, that I feel shine brighter than the whole of most big pictures.

Grandma’s Boy * * *
Directed by: Nicholaus Goossen / 2006

I think Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison (I wonder where they got their name?) could only put out a film like “Grandma’s Boy”. However, I don’t aim to cut the movie or its creators so short by saying such a thing. I didn’t love it as much as films like “Smiley Face”, “Office Space”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” or “Pineapple Express”, but I liked it a lot. In fact, “Grandma’s Boy” is kind of a cheaper combo meal of the aforementioned smart stoner comedies. Not exactly, but kind of…I think they all share similar genes in the cesspool of stupid-awesome. What am I getting at here? I don’t know, I just enjoy some great stupid-awesome comedies and this one is an overlooked decent, little nugget in a sand box of some pretty solid ones in recent years. I can't always relate to their immaturity on their sleeves, but in ways I can and always end up having a coma of good time. Keep 'em coming. -djg

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