Can you wipe away a soul?

I’m not exactly a big Joss Whedon fan, though I do like aspects of Firefly (2002-2003) and Serenity (2005), both of which my wife really likes. But I am a big fan of stories about amnesia and various other kinds of memory loss, and the questions such things raise regarding the nature of identity and the relationship between the body and the soul, etc. So now I’m wondering if I should check out Whedon’s newest series, Dollhouse, when it premieres early next year (or when it comes out on DVD afterwards).

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Side note: I am intrigued by how the trailer above begins with the protagonist sitting underwater. When I first gave my massive, three-part lecture on ‘Memory at the Movies’ four years ago, I was struck by how several of the films I cited made significant use of aquatic motifs — most prominently in Finding Nemo (2003), perhaps, but it’s also there in Total Recall (1990), Dark City (1998), 50 First Dates (2004) and the Bourne trilogy (2002-2007), to name the first few films that come to mind.

Is this the summer of older people?

Lou Lumenick notes that the phenomenally successful Sex and the City has at least one thing in common with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the film it is poised to knock down to 2nd place at the box office this weekend: namely, both films feature romantically active leading ladies in their 50s.

This gets me thinking. One of the things people praised Iron Man for was the fact that its leading man was an actual man, played by the 43-year-old Robert Downey Jr., and not one of those nerdy mutant boys who have been all too common at the box office lately.

Meanwhile, the two major films aimed this month at kids — and starring young 20-something men in the leading roles — have been box-office disappointments. I refer, of course, to Speed Racer, which has earned only about $40 million after four weeks, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which has been lagging behind the first Narnia film nearly every day of its release, and this week fell behind Iron Man.

More and more, that abnormally young-ish — and hopefully abandonedJustice League movie looks like a really, really bad idea.

Shirley Manson joins Terminator TV series


The Hollywood Reporter says Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson has joined the cast of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as “Catherine Weaver, the CEO of a cutting-edge high-tech company.” As one who counts ‘Only Happy When It Rains‘ among his favorite rain-themed songs of all time — and yes, I do have a list — I just had to post this news, along with this photo from Garbage’s music video for the theme song to The World Is Not Enough (1999).

The Road Warrior — worst DVD ever?

I actually kind of like it when DVDs go right into the movie; it beats sitting through ads and FBI warnings, and if you really want the menu screen, you can always get there by pressing the menu button. But apart from that minor disagreement, this is a fun little video.

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Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly. (Hat tip to The Movie Blog.)

Sex and the City — a tale of two cultures.


I have never seen the TV show, and I wasn’t allowed into the press screening, so I doubt I will get around to seeing the Sex and the City movie — especially since I still haven’t gotten around to seeing P.S. I Love You, 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, What Happens in Vegas and various other romantic comedies that have come out in the last few months, either just before or after my son Nicholas was born and my life got even busier than usual.

But I have gotten a kick out of seeing some of the early reviews. First, this bit from Jeffrey Wells:

The soul of this movie is infected with gross materialism, the flaunting of me-me egos and the endless nurturing of the characters’ greed and/or sense of entitlement. It’s all about money to piss away and flashy things to wear and lush places where the the girls lunch and exchange dreary confessional chit-chat. And this, mind you, is where millions of middle-class women in every semi-developed country around the globe live in their dreams. They’re going to this movie right now in multitudes. Sad. Really sad. Because SATC is crap through and through.

A few items back I called Sex and the City a Taliban recruitment film. All I know is that I felt ashamed, sitting in a Paris movie theatre, that this film, right now, is portraying middle-class female American values, and that this somehow reflects upon the country that I love and care deeply about. It’s a kind of advertisement for the cultural shallowness that’s been spreading like the plague for years, and for what young American womanhood seems to be currently about — what it wants, cherishes, pines for. Not so much the realizing of intriguing ambitions or creative dreams as much as wallowing in consumption as the girls cackle and toss back Margaritas.

And then there is the Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Zeitchik, who also saw the movie in Paris:

Once inside, the movie’s opening sequence, as expected, played to a spirited reaction: loud cheering and excited chatter continuing even a few scenes into the film. What was less expected was what the crowd would react to. Sure, there were the laughs at the raunchy visual gags that travel well — humping dogs, phallic sushi and the like.

But the interesting thing was that the audience seemed to laugh at parts that we could swear were supposed to play straight, and in the U.S. no doubt will — a mid-bridge reunion between a reconciling couple, a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend’s decision to let his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend keep a ring — and, most noticeably, a decision by a couple to enter therapy. Therapy? A couple? Now that’s comedy.

There were reports from early U.S. screenings of moviegoers weeping at some of these scenes. No sniffles here.

All this made us realize that for all of the HBO series’ popularity in Europe, it really played as frilly fun — with New York an idealized fairy-tale setting — not as the more earnest exploration of feelings that at least in part drew U.S. viewers.

I can only wonder how the film will play in Canada, where American and French sensibilities tend to overlap to some degree. (British sensibilities too, but I haven’t come across any reviews of the film from Americans who saw it in London, yet.)

The, um, revival of ’80s franchises continues.


In the last couple years, we have seen revivals of the Rocky (1976-1990), Indiana Jones (1981-1989), Rambo (1982-1988) and Die Hard (1988-1995) franchises … and we could even add original-series Star Trek (1979-1991) to the list, since the new film is bringing back Leonard Nimoy as Spock … so hey, why not revive Beverly Hills Cop (1984-1994), too?

They were talking about it two years ago, but now, says Variety, they have a director attached … and it’s Brett Ratner.

I have to ask: Does this mean that that Ratner-directed, Eddie Murphy-starring remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) is now more likely to get made, or less likely to get made?


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