Saturday, May 1, 2010

Freddy Krueger vs. Brendan Fraser: everybody loses

Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep. At either of these two movies, I mean.

OK, kids, this is the last week before the surging slate of summer movies comes our way – “Iron Man 2,” “Robin Hood,” “Shrek Forever After” . . . so we are given a palate-cleansing duo of duds this Friday.

First off, there’s the reboot of “Nightmare on Elm Street” – which one of the three trailers do you want to watch?

Let’s start with the 1984 original:



OK, a classic, right? Wes Craven, along with George Romero, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, created the graphic, nihilistic new wave of horror, in which bodies get flayed/spiked/eviscerated/turned inside out/ad infinitum, no heroes survive, the villain lives to kill another day, and there’s no safe place anymore for anyone ever.

This shattering, disturbing approach changed movies forever with their transgressive power. They opened the genre up, making it capable of touching on societal and psychological truths – and also let idiots who confused gore with genius and sadism with profundity to make reprehensible torture-porn such as the “Saw” series, “Hostel,” and the upcoming “Human Centipede” and “A Serbian Film.”

The Freddy franchise proved so durable that it spawned eight sequels, a TV series, and made an iconic figure out of the central villain, whose indelible portrayal by Robert Englund became a campy, cackling kind of antihero for many (let’s not forget that the character slaughtered 20 children before his initial demise).

OK, here are all three of the new trailers:







Ideally, if you’re gong to revisit such a pivotal film, you should bring something new to it. Is that the case here?

No.

The one is feel really sorry for is Jackie Earle Haley, the new Freddy, who is locked into a three-picture contract on this project. Haley proved that he can play what one reviewer called “creeps and maniacs” with aplomb, after his Oscar-nominated role in “Little Childen.” No shame there – other actors good at revealing their dark sides include Karloff, Lugosi, Lorre, Price, Chaney, Lee – masterful icons of horror.

But will Haley get to put his own distinctive mark on the character? It doesn’t look as though the new “Nightmare” will give him a chance.

“Furry Vengeance”:



No, no, no! Why, God, why? OK, I know I recently called Nicholas Cage a crap magnet, for all the lousy film projects with which he associates himself. But Brendan Fraser makes him look as dignified as Morgan Freeman.

Oh, Brendan, dammit, I know you can act! Instead of citing all the crap you’ve done, let’s look at three great performances – 1. “George of the Jungle” – yes, physical comedy, but also great timing and nuanced delivery. He proved he could handle comedy. 2. “Gods and Monsters” – a supporting role, but one performed in an honest, subdued and moving manner. 3. “The Ugly American” – a grossly neglected, brilliant film with great performances by Fraser and Michael Caine. This film got buried when it first came out and deserves a second look, people.

Brendan, Brendan, Brendan.

I know, you’ve got kids, you need the money. As Bob Goldthwaite once said when someone asked him why he kept making those crappy “Police Academy” sequels: “Look, if someone drove up to your house with a dump truck full of cash, as you going to tell them to go to hell?”

Just call me. Maybe I can help you find some good scripts. Stop doing this to yourself and us.

-->
PLAYING CATCH-UP

Due to family obligations and computer breakdowns, I missed my normal deadline. Just for the record, here’s what we didn’t get to discuss:

Late-night showings of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Foxy Brown,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; special showings of “Romancing the Stone” and “Man of Aran”; and the final live HD Metropolitan Opera broadcast of the season, Handel’s “Armida,” as well as the Mayweather vs. Mosley fight.

A thousand pardons! Fortunately, there are still a lot of interesting openings and special events to clue you in to through Thursday – here we go!

ART HOUSES

In Boulder, both the International Film Series and the Boulder Public Library series are taking the summer off. It’s great that the curators get a break; however, summer film programs through both these entities used to be the norm. Hopefully, economics and interest will allow them to start up again.

Looking forward, the Boulder Outdoor Cinema has announced that it will take place again this summer, so look for news about that as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, down in the Denver at the Landmark chain, three new entries hit the screens. At the Mayan, we can find “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and “The Square”:


Looks like an interesting examination of street and graffiti art – there are serious questions about who shot and directed this, what art is and all that good stuff.

“The Square”: a little Aussie noir –


Greed, sex, murder . . . all rightie.

At the Chez Artiste, “The Cartel” plays:


No one will go see this, yet everyone should. Oops, did I just give away the fact that I have school-age children? Well, even in well-funded districts, crap like this is happening all the time. We need to break the bureaucratic stranglehold in our children’s futures – spreading the word about this movie might help.

Over at the Starz Film Center, you can catch “Tahaan”:


No, no, no. OK, I can’t speak to the film itself, but this trailer looks like the heart-warming, tear-jerking story of a boy and his donkey. In fact, the trailer literally says “a boy and his donkey.” You can’t make fun of something that mocks itself. Boy plus donkey plus hand grenade equals no fun for the entire family.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Something called “Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D” is playing at some of the mainstream multiplexes.


Do you like Kenny Chesney? Then you will like this. And, following this logic . . .

TUESDAY, MAY 4

Once again, Denver weekly Westword is sponsoring a sneak preview of “Iron Man 2” – details, including time and place can be found in the paper itself (online registration is necessary to obtain passes.) Get the complete lowdown on the new adventures of Tony Stark next week!

At Starz, the series Women + Film presents the documentary “Babies” at 7 p.m.:

 Babies are cool! I love babies. Everyone loves babies. Who doesn’t love babies? So this is a no-brainer. It’s also a city-wide baby shower, benefitting Bloom a prenatal care program at St. Anthony Central Hospital. Admission is $15, or FREE if you bring a baby shower gift valued at $15 or more. After the film, there’s a reception with drinks and snacks. Want to find out what is needed? Go to http://www.realbabyinc.com.

And at the Bug Theatre in Denver, the Denver School of the Arts will present its Senior Showcase at 7 p.m. as well. 
WEDNESDAY, MAY 5

At the Thin Man Tavern in Denver, Wednesday night is film night, and down in the Ubisububi Room, the Wim Wenders festival continues at 8 p.m. with “Wings of Desire”:


Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander, the late Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk – with music by the immortal Nick Cave. One of my top ten films of all time, I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you think you are tired of life, this film will turn your head around.

THURSDAY, MAY 6

At Starz, DocNight features “Girls on the Wall” at 7 p.m.:


OK, the premise doesn’t sound great – girls in prison mount musical. But the film is aware of the absurdity of its premise, and looks through it. Director Heather Ross will be there in person. Every time I think the documentary explosion of the last 20 years has to run out of subjects and good filmmakers, I get proven wrong. Good.

That’s it! Another round-up, hopefully timely, coming soon. Thanks!