The Wizard of Oz. Three grown men dressed in funny outfits while experiencing various physical ailments take a newly pubescent girl, who is also a serial witch murderer, on a long, lonely walk through a strange forest, where they eventually inhale drugs and take a special nap together, after which they escort her to a flustered older gentleman who likes to lurk in the corner behind a curtain. Several other observations also jump to mind. In one brief shot, Munchkin children are hatched from eggs. Who is laying those giant eggs? Those poor Munchkin mothers must be getting torn in half! It’s been pointed out that those eggs are resting in flowers, so maybe the children are grown from flowers. If that’s the case, how are those plants getting pollinated? Sounds messy. Also, do winged monkeys require hair gel every day to groom their faux-hawks? By creating the giant green head of the Wizard, has the snake oil salesman from Kansas developed holographic technology? And if so, can he continue to conjure Tupac for us? Finally, with Dorothy ending up back in Kansas, everything is supposed to be hunky dory. But if you think about it, the initial problem that caused her to run away in the first place still exists. That old bitch on the bike still wants to kill her dog. Dorothy’s uncle and Auntie Em were going to comply because the law said they had to. None of that changed during the tornado while Dorothy took a nap. Now that she’s awake, they still have to comply with the legal paperwork and put the dog down. Makes for a super short and depressing sequel—Wizard 2: Toto Gets One Last Injection.
Let’s face it, in a lot of points throughout history, it has sucked to be a woman. Society has been unfair to them, women were often trapped in their stations in life, female choices have at times been virtually non-existent, and self-expression was often viewed by the male-dominated world as a trivial matter. Ladies were often born into a household, expected to grow up a certain way, expected to behave in a certain manner, get married off to a certain type of man, produce suitable offspring, and not have opinions of their own. It’s not that women didn’t have their own hearts and minds, just that they were often trapped.
The Muslims Are Coming! documents a tour of Muslim stand-up comedians doing free tour dates at various venues throughout the southern United States. Headed by comedienne Negin Farsad, the tour is meant to put a face on a group that in American discourse is largely misunderstood. It opens with a montage of various TV pundits fueling fear mongering aimed at those sneaky Muslims. A major point of this film is how all of the fear-based hostility focused on this group in our post-9/11 world is rooted largely in ignorance. And comedy can broach uncomfortable subjects better than just about anything. If people are laughing, you can create understanding without anger. At least that’s the hope.
From the outside, the annual Burning Man gathering in Nevada looks like a crazy gathering of sun-burnt, formerly Grateful Dead following, Phish listening, free-love having, acid-dropping, half-naked hippies. It can seem like a strange, otherworldly experience that might seem pointless. So to answer the question “What the hell is that unwashed mass of humanity doing out in the desert for a week every year?”, along comes the new documentary Spark: A Burning Man Story.
Youth is attractive, no question. Our whole society often seems obsessed with the young. There is a vibrancy and passion that is seductive about the young. Everyone is at their most sexually attractive, energetic, and optimistic as teens. Appreciating what that youth has to offer is common, healthy, and normal. But when that very understandable thought process spills over into a relationship with an underage minor, that psychology is distorted. Romantic relationships between an adult and a teenager are simply a bad idea. Legally, morally, mentally, that gap in maturity is a crucial distance that is impossible to overcome. And it is that very desire that is portrayed in the new indie drama A Teacher.
The new film We’re The Millers fulfills the most important rule of comedy: it’s funny. It may be a bit overlong, the story beats might be predictable, but you will laugh. The cast boasts a roster of genuinely funny people and at times there is a hint of intelligence behind the raunchy humor. While it falls short of greatness, which would have been served by committing to a harder edge than it ends up with, it is still a fun watch.
Ugh, okay. There are certain times with movies when it’s hard to even muster up enough enthusiasm to talk about it longer than a few seconds. Such is the case with The Smurfs 2. Your short and simple review for this film is: Don’t Bother.
Randy Newman brought his piano and his caustic wit to the Summer ZooTunes concert series at the Woodland Park Zoo. On a beautifully balmy Wednesday night, the mostly white-haired crowd gathered to witness the great songwriter alone on stage as he played songs from his multi-decade career. In recent years, Newman has famously been known for his prolific movie music. Those few in the crowd who attended for free because they were under twelve know him for his multitudinous Pixar projects. But with the exception of a fun rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend In Me,” Mr. Newman steered clear of the movie music and instead focused on his own wonderfully sarcastic songs.
On paper, the new film Computer Chess sounds like a fun and intriguing trip through exploring the early days of computer programming. Set during the early 1980s when dot matrix printers spewed out long trails of sheets covered in arcane Fortran code, the idea of portraying an early chess tournament populated by young Bill Gates/Paul Allen types sounds fun. And the conceit of filming the whole affair in mostly black and white using nothing but vintage video equipment that was available at the time seems like it would create a time capsule of a hilariously retro computing era. Unfortunately, this film is neither as engaging nor as fun as all that sounds.