Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Please don't call it a remake.

Honestly, I knew there was no way in hell anyone could successfully remake Fame. The original is one of my all-time-favorite movies that I've probably seen 100 times. I watched the original on VHS so many times the box is completely worn and faded and I've kept it despite retiring the old VCR ages ago.
Fame09, while admittedly was not as tortuous as I expected, did a really good job at losing the original's soul. There was so much missing - character backstory, smoking, emphasis on the tough teachers, love letter to a gritty and real NYC, Freddy Prinze references, abortion, tragedy, boobs - that I'm not quite sure how they were able to fill all 107 minutes. I suppose there was that CarnEVIL Halloween dance sequence, but I guess I prefer seeing Rocky Horror Picture Show stoned to a sad Baz Luhrmann rip-off.
As slick and sexy as it was, I just couldn't help but think "is this what our culture has come to"? I know it makes me sound terribly old-fashioned, but it disappointed me to see supposedly teenaged girls in thigh-high stockings and not much else gyrating face down on the floor, rather than doing grand jeté drills in pink tights and toe shoes. Granted I have been listening to Black and Gold all day.
Fortunately, I hadn't done much research on Fame09 before seeing it. I wouldn't have been able to pony up full price admission if I knew 22-year-old Kevin Tancharoen's, the director!, resume consists of pretty much only Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll. You got me again, Century Theaters!
Instead of making my mistake, watch the original this weekend in your slippers. Then tell me your favorite line. Here's mine: "Elton John's mama's got six mink coats!"
In the meantime, a little taste:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taking Woodstock or Demetri Martin is cute

First, I'd like to share an experience about getting a call-in to Natomas. Now, I understand that call-ins are a privilege and I shouldn't complain. I do appreciate them. A lot. Especially since I work at the Crest like once every two months. Last night I called the Crest and got a call-in (plus 2 even!) for Taking Woodstock in Natomas. When I showed up at the theatre, they didn't have a record of it and they made me call my manager and have him call it in again. Now, I usually love Natomas because they have so many seats that they don't care if you're getting in for free. But this guy seemed to be on some sort of power trip. I mean, if I was willing to call right then and there, wouldn't that be a sign that I'm not lying? Or why couldn't he call them instead of having us all play phone tag? Or why was he just not friendly at all? Anyway, we were let in after we played phone tree and then we found out we were the ONLY people in the auditorium. Sweet. No whispering.

Things I took away from Taking Woodstock:
I still think Demetri Martin is cute, even if he's playing a gay man in bad clothing.
I still think Emile Hirsche is cute, even if he's playing a crazy ex-soldier
Lots of naked hippies.

I read the New Yorker review of this movie awhile back and I have to agree with their notion that it's a good idea to not portray the musical performances. You often hear music in the background, but you never see someone pretending to be Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin. However, for a movie that's about a significant music festival, they don't mention the music all that often. I doubt it has much of a soundtrack.

I often felt like the film was a bit disjointed and even slow at times. It felt very much like "staring at hippies". There was a bit of breaking the screen into parts a la the era (I'm not a filmmaker and I don't know the term) which was interesting and also distracting. I think the feeling of the 60s was there, but the story wasn't completely compelling. I didn't feel like the main character had much of a transformation or an experience really. And he was at Woodstock!

I think the movie could be compared to Almost Famous - nerdy boy with outrageous people learns about life. But this one seemed to be a little lacking.