Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burning Beds and Dancefloors; Remembering the lives of two generation-defining entertainers

I was amazed at how deeply struck and saddened I felt on Thursday when news of the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson hit the mass media. Here were two people that could be no different, set against opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum, who had accomplished something lasting and then faded away from the limelight either by personal choice or lack of motivation. Indeed, when it came to acknowledging their bodies of work, our minds had often been elsewhere because they seemed so far in the past. Yet in their own ways, they lived very public tragedies in recent times that warranted a deeper insight from those of us on the outside, she with her brave years-long battle with cancer and he with a decades-long decent into depression, legal troubles and mental instability.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Hangover - **1/2 (2009)

A stroke of irony fills the air in one of the parting shots of Todd Phillips’s “The Hangover,” when a character uncovers a digital camera containing evidence of a night of exploits and hands it over to Doug Billings (Justin Bartha), who suggests that he and his friends view the photos “only once” and then delete all of them from the memory card. What this scene ultimately accomplishes is two-fold: 1) it is beneficial in tying up various loose ends purposely left open throughout several integral moments of the plot; and 2) it gives certain audience members like me an outline in attempting to reach a coherent assessment of the picture as a whole. For two hours we are cheerfully pummeled into visual and verbal submission by incredibly direct dialogue, embarrassing character situations, impossibly convoluted scenarios and ridiculous plot twists. We laugh at most of them, and sometimes even laugh at the fact that we’re being so entertained by such showy nonsense. But it is nonsense purely for the moment, because once those theater lights lift and we return to reality, we are content in the notion that the experience, no matter how amusing, is over. Here is the kind of movie that rightly disposes of itself at the moment it realizes that mindless fun is only funny for a brief time, and never in multiple doses.