The Best Movie Critic + review

The Couchman Cometh: Bring It On, Moon, Cartoons, and More!

We are hurtling toward the time of year when Gin and Tonics taste magical. That is to say spring, or even more specifically, during the running of the Triple Crown. I decided to kick things off a little early last week and made myself up a man-sized G & T and sat down to watch me some Bring It On.

Considering the movie, you’d think a better drink pairing might have been a wine cooler or a hard lemonade, or something with an umbrella. If you think that, then you’re wrong. This movie deserves a real drink because it is really damned intense. I had only caught bits and pieces of it on TV in the past; the last time was with my dad, who is a dirty old sod. But I was surprised by the quality of the movie. I caught the amazing trailer for this at The Watching Hour in front of Teen Witch, and knew I had to put on the big boy pants and watch this bitch from end to end.

It’s a movie that is not only surprisingly good, but one that also made me re-think its place in the cannon of teen dramas. This movie belongs next to your Breakfast Clubs, your Better off Deads, and your Can’t Hardly Waits. The thing that really struck me about Bring It On is how serious and straight faced everyone plays their parts. I think it might have been Miranda that picked up on that. What they’re doing is overblown and ridiculous, but the acting feels true to how intense everything feels in high school. If it hasn’t been done already, this movie deserves a through critical examination from a variety of different lenses. Bring It On came out pre-9/11 and I couldn’t help but think about it in that context. I’m sure that interesting comparisons could be drawn with the thoroughly Bush-era You Got Served, particularly in the portrayal of whites, blacks, and Latinos from different social strata.

I liked that race and class was an issue in Bring it On to a certain extent. The movie didn’t dwell on it for longer than necessary or make it heavier than necessary. The white cheerleading squad’s high school is called, “Rancho Carne” roughly translated, “meat ranch.” It seems weirdly plausible that a well-to-do community of upper-upper-middle-class folks would pick such an exotic sounding community to place their McMansions. Consequently, the sashes on the cheerleading uniforms have the school’s abbreviation, “RCH,” making the viewer see “rich,” which is of course one of the main things the poor black cheerleaders from Compton see when looking at their opposing team.

The following night, we watched the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona. Not too much to say about it. It held up quite well. I love that in a movie as grounded as Raising Arizona is overall, the Coens managed to add in the Bike Rider of the Apocalypse. More movies need that kind of crazy. You can tell that Nicholas Cage hadn’t quite found his voice yet…

Rocky and Bullwinkle season 1 is on Netflix to watch instantly. I love the endless exposition in these. It seems like something is always being recapped. On top of that, the narrator excitedly and thoroughly describes everything in detail as segments are pre-empted and promised to be continued and a constant parade of title segments and introductions frame the Fractured Fairy Tales and Peabody and Mr. Sherman. Rocky and Bullwinkle also has some really great design work and color. While we were in the mood for cartoons, we watched the Inspector Gadget pilot episode. In it, the good Inspector has a moustache. I didn’t recall this from my childhood. It was like we were watching a foreign-made Detective Gizmo bootleg… Rocky and Bullwinkle held up much better than Gadget. Not that they’re really comparable or anything…

Sundays in the Couch household are “Serious Movie Sundays” where we force ourselves to watch movies that are considered conventionally good. This week, we had the double feature of Moon and Sunset Blvd.

Moon is fucking great. You really need to see it. It’s a hard movie to write about because I would feel very bad giving anything away about it. It’s one of those rare science fiction films that gets away with the strength of its ideas, writing, and acting alone. The first act of the movie feels like a straight rip-off of 2001. Then the second act starts and the movie takes a left turn. It’s a great great movie that deals intelligently with big ideas like humanity. I really wish this had received the attention that District 9 got, because Moon is better on every level – and of course, completely different. Duncan Jones will be one of our best directors very soon.

Sunset Blvd. is appropriately good. I don’t have much to say about it, it’s Billy Wilder. So, yeah, it’s really really good and more entertaining than I thought it would be. It would make a great double feature with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Gloria Swanson plays a fading silent film star named Norma Desmond – that name was a composite name of two people, silent film star Norma Talmadge, and silent film director William Desmond Taylor. Taylor was the victim of a notorious unsolved murder back in the boom days of Hollywood. The case was detailed fantastically in the comic, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: Famous Players by Rick Geary.

The book is a fantastic example of how well the true crime genre lends itself to comics. The story is gripping and damned weird. If something like it were to happen today, it would be bigger than all your Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson scandals combined. If you have any interest in the weird heady days of early Hollywood, this is a great place to start.

That’s all for now, next week, I’ll take an in-depth look at the movies I saw at our quarterly film fest. This time around, the theme is music movies. My selection can be found on Netflix watch instant now if you want to follow along, it’s a little movie called, “Cool as Ice.”

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