The Weekend I Marathoned all the Mission: Impossible Films and Became Concerned about Ethan Hunt’s Mental Health

All the Spoilers

Mission: Impossible (1996)

It's so cool how I'm in silhouette on the poster.

It’s so cool how I’m in silhouette on the poster.

I’m so cool and suave and I have no emotional attachments except to my job at the IMF and my father figure/mentor and his young attractive wife, and noooooooooo they ALL betrayed me!

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Still on the poster, only now there are more explosions behind me!

Still rocking the profile on the poster, only there are more explosions behind me!

I’m still really cool but now I’m all about showing my detachment and isolation by rock climbing alone in the desert with no rope and growing my hair long so it can swing around me in slow motion whenever I engage in gun fights or eye sex with strange attractive women, who I then sleep with and send into the psychotic villain’s fortress. I run through so many explosions because maybe I put her in harm’s way, so I need to endanger myself with more slow motion gun fights and explosions and motorcycle/helicopter chases. And we live happily ever after, with our hair.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Nope, looking left is definitely better.

Let’s try looking left this time.

I don’t even remember the chick from before, because now I’m totally, 100%, for real out of the field, and engaged to a different chick who is totally in love with me, but she can never know the truth about what I used to do, but that’s totally healthy, because we’re so in love. Damn it, the girl I mentored has been killed and I have to go back in the field!!! This is so unexpected! But because this chick I’m engaged to is wondering about my sudden emotional distance and my long, unexplained absences, and narcissistically thinks that my inability to tell her about anything going on in my life has to do with our upcoming marriage and my commitment issues, which I totally don’t have, despite everyone I’ve ever cared about dying or betraying me, as my one friend is going to do in a few scenes, I’m gonna totally reassure her by marrying her before going on a life-threatening mission. But I’m not gonna tell her anything, she’s safer not knowing, and if I vanish and just never return, at least she won’t think it had anything to do with HER, because I totally married her first. Oh man, that bad guy SO did not kidnap her and kill her in front of me, I am so pissed. Oh wait, she’s not dead, but he did kidnap her, so I’m still pretty pissed. Good thing my abducted wife knows nothing about my secret life, so rather than having information that could be tortured out of her she is just completely in the dark. It’s safer that way. She’s so cool and capable, because she electrocutes me to short out the charge in my head that would kill me, and then because she’s a badass nurse she totally CPRs me back to life. Let’s live happily ever after!

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Psych! Straight on, baby. Deal with it.

Psych! Straight on, baby. Deal with it.

I am alone. I’m in Russian prison and my hair is long again. I’m so alone. They broke me out of prison, but these IMF young, punk kids don’t know anything about my tortured soul. They say they’re sorry my marriage didn’t work out. They don’t know anything. The world is in peril and all I have to work with are these punk kids, and this desk agent. Stupid desk agent, so usele- Whoa! He has totally un-desk agent like skills! We all have our secrets. Let’s overcome our demons and save the world. Mission accomplished! You punk kids are pretty cool after all. We saved the world with the power of teamwork. Let’s be a team in the next film too, unless they decide to cast someone else, in which case, it was nice working with you. Comic relief guy, you’re probably safe, but random chick, you are so generic that they could replace the actress and keep the same damn name and probably no one would even notice. I doubt anyone even knows your name now. Hey young desk agent, reveal to me that you are responsible for my wife’s death, which I totally already knew, because secret agent, and that the guilt over the death of an innocent has kept you out of the field ever since. But don’t worry about it. My wife totally isn’t dead! We faked her death so I could keep her safe forever, and only ever see her from a distance, because that’s totally healthier! So since she isn’t really dead, you should come back to the field. Because this prolonged psychological experiment didn’t reveal that you aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with collateral damage inherent to our line of work. Because my wife isn’t really dead! Awesome, have fun rebooting the series when I got tired of making absurd amounts of money!

Point Break (1991) rating: Pure Adrenaline!

Let me just stress, I fucking love Point Break. I think it is a masterpiece in surfing/skydiving/bank robbery genre. From its gritty, highly realistic story, to its complex characters, nuanced acting and well-crafted dialogue, there is nothing it can’t do.

Just in case you missed it, it says "Pure Adrenaline Edition."

Just in case you missed it, it says “Pure Adrenaline Edition.” As opposed to the vaguely thrilling edition.

Keanu Reeves is Johnny Utah, a rookie FBI agent partnered with cranky old-timer Gary Busey. I love when people have states for last names. And grown men who choose to go by Johnny.

Did someone say Johnny Utah?

Did someone say Johnny Utah?

So, they’re hunting for a quartet of bank robbers, the ex-presidents, so called because of the masks they wear of ex-presidents. This group of bank robbers is very professional, and let me stress this, they only take the cash from the drawer and never hurt anybody. THEY STEAL SMALL AMOUNTS OF MONEY AND NO ONE GETS HURT.

Totally harmless.

Mostly harmless.

We all clear on that? So Gary Busey has a theory, which is much mocked within the bureau, that these robbers are surfers. One has a distinct tan line, one left a shoe print that contained sand and surfboard wax, and they are only active during the summer. So despite this being the only lead that anybody in the FBI has, Gary Busey is marginalized and outcast, until Keanu Reeves convinces him to keep investigating.

It's cool. You can trust me.

Maybe that’s not the only reason he’s marginalized and outcast.

This means that Keanu Reeves has to go deep undercover as a surfer, because surfers are like a tribe, with their own language, and they won’t accept you unless you’re one of them. As Gary says, “it’s either you or me out there on the board. Do you get my drift?” Yeah, that would be an entirely different film.

So it turns out that Keanu is a terrible surfer, but Tyler, an attractive lady surfer, (whose affections he worms his way into by pretending that his parents were killed in an accident after using his FBI database skills to discover that her parents were also killed in an accident) agrees to teach him some basics.

Oh wait, I got that backwards. He's a great surfer. He's a terrible actor.

Oh wait, I got that backwards. He’s a great surfer. He’s a terrible actor.

This proves to be enough to get him accepted into the surfing culture and befriended by Patrick Swayze, aka Bodhi, and his trio of sidekicks. Bodhi is a spiritual man, who feels connected to the ocean, and sees in Johnny a kindred spirit.

Yeah, kindred spirit. In a totally straight way.

Yeah, kindred spirit. In a totally straight way.

Hmmm…Patrick Swayze + three other guys = four awesome new friends! These awesome new friends defend him when he’s bullied by four nasty mean surfers, who are definitely up to something shady. We know for sure they are bullies and reckless drivers. Why not bank robbers too?

pointbreakmeansurfers

How can four guys this mean not be bank robbers?

In a staggering lack of communication between departments, Keanu and co. raid their house only to discover that the surfers were small time drug dealers currently under investigation to lead the DEA to their supplier. Not only did their raid ruin any chance of the DEA finding their supplier, but they are definitely not the bank robbers.

Do I look like I like this hair, man? Do I like wearing these clothes?

“Do I look like I like this hair, man? Do you think I like these clothes?” says the poor deep-cover DEA agent. I guess not everybody takes to their undercover life as well as Johnny Utah took to his.

“Oh shit!” as Keanu so aptly puts it. What the hell? Those guys were totally the meanest of all the quartets of surfers currently surfing on this one specific beach. It’s not like there’s another group of four surfers currently surfing on this one specific beach that it could be. Keanu begins to count on his fingers and realizes that of the ten surfers in L.A., two are him and his girlfriend, four were just arrested for dealing drugs, and that the other four are Patrick Swayze and his three friends. No. It can’t be. Not Bohdi, the zen-surf master, to whom he’s grown so close, who taught him to be one with the wave and experience the spiritual side of surfing.

No, not Bodhi

No, not Bodhi. Look at his hair. How could he fit it all under his Ronald Reagan mask?

So Keanu and Gary stakeout the bank, preparing to stop the robbery attempt that they feel is imminent. Gary, surprising absolutely no one, fucks up, forcing Keanu to attempt to stop the fleeing robbers. Wait. Why is Keanu even here? Remember how he’s undercover? I know he got a 100% on his marksmanship exam in the opening scene, but is he really so good that they can’t send literally any other FBI agent to this raid? You know what might blow his cover? Drawing a gun and yelling “FBI.”

Freeze, it's me, Johnny Utah, here to, surf, brah.

Freeze, it’s me, Johnny Utah, here to, surf, brah.

Showing monumentally poor judgement Keanu draws his gun and yells “FBI!” Richard Nixon goes to shoot him, but Ronald Reagan knocks his gun away, revealing Bodhi’s affection for Johnny. An excellent chase ensues. There’s something wonderful about seeing Patrick Swayze in a Ronald Reagan mask dousing a man in gasoline and lighting him on fire.

political commentary?

Political commentary, or collateral damage?

When Keanu finally has Ronald Reagan in his sights, he realizes that he has grown too close to Patrick Swayze to shoot him, and instead shoots his gun into the air and goes “ahhhhhh!” Showing even worse judgement he then goes back undercover, pretending that nothing has changed. Dude, they were the ones in the masks, not you. They know exactly who you are. Remember how you, wearing no mask over your real face, shouted, “FBI?” Yeah, so do they.

Pictured: Johnny Utah, with no mask

Pictured: Johnny Utah, actual face

So our four bank robbers show up at Johnny’s house in the middle of the night. He busted his knee during the chase and is hobbling around, and since he was caught unaware he doesn’t have his gun. Oh man, he’s totally vulnerable. So Bodhi and his gang grab Johnny and…take him skydiving. But then they give him a parachute…that works perfectly.

I totally though you were gonna kill me just now. Wee!

I totally though you were gonna kill me just now. Whee!

It turns out that Bodhi did realize that Johnny was an FBI agent, figuring this out sometime around the moment that Johnny pulled his gun and yelled, “FBI!” He kidnapped Tyler, Johnny’s girlfriend. (She was, by the way, furious with Johnny before she was kidnapped as a pawn in his legal struggles, having discovered that he is an FBI agent and that his parents are alive.) They threaten her to blackmail Johnny into robbing a bank with them. An off duty cop happens to be in the bank and he tries to stop the bank robbers, killing LBJ, wounding Nixon, and hitting Keanu right in the bulletproof vest, before getting killed by Bodhi. The robbers ultimately get away, leaving Keanu behind. Meanwhile, his boss arrests him for bank robbing.

I'M SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW!

I’M SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW!

Look at the cop that got killed, is that what you wanted? Wait? What? No. You know that’s not what he wanted. Seriously? You know he’s undercover. You put him there. Do you really think that being kidnapped by bank robbers and standing in a bank while they rob a bank is arrest worthy? I know he’s made a series of staggeringly bad choices to get to this moment, but poor decision making isn’t against the law. In fact, the entire film would fall apart without it.

Gary and Keanu, despite being under arrest, leave the scene of the crime (after Gary decks their boss) and pursue the fleeing robbers. Gary kills one and wounds one, before being killed himself. Noooo! We care deeply that Johnny’s partner and mentor was just killed! Nooooo!

NOOOO!

NOOOO!

Bodhi grabs Roach (his injured buddy,) and Johnny, and loads the three of them into his getaway plane. Apparently he’s still holding Tyler (girlfriend, remember her?) hostage, so Johnny has to do what he says. Roach parachutes to safety, although he ultimately doesn’t survive, and the money he was holding scatters in the wind across the desert, in a profound moment of irony, revealing to anybody who still wondered that it was never really about the money. Bodhi says in a totally straight, not homosexual way to Johnny, “I know you want me so bad it’s like acid in your mouth.” And then he jumps out of the plane, leaving Johnny behind without a chute, although weren’t there originally supposed to be four guys on this plane? Did they realize while rushing to load their ill-gotten gains that with those two dead guys those extra chutes were just dead weight and purposefully leave them behind?

I want you so bad it's like acid in my mouth.

I want you so bad it’s like acid in my mouth.

Johnny apparently does want Bodhi that badly, because he dives out of the plane after him. When he catches up to Bodhi they snuggle for a bit as they hit terminal velocity, and then cuddle a bit more once they hit the ground. “Jesus Christ,” Johnny pants, as he struggles to free himself from the parachute. “God damn you are one radical son of a bitch,” Bodhi gasps. As Bodhi walks away into the desert, he says, once again in a totally straight, not gay, single layer of meaning way, “Looks like this time you won’t be getting your man. This game we both lose.” Tyler is released, all apparently forgiven and forgotten, and Bodhi rides off into the sunset.

Epilogue: Johnny has tracked Bodhi to Australia, where the legendary “50 year storm” has stirred the ocean into a raging frenzy. The regular surfers are fleeing the beach in droves, the waves are just too intense for these mere thrill seekers to risk. Yet there is a lone figure standing, zen-like, staring out at the immensity of the Pacific Ocean. Could it be Bodhi? Yes, Johnny tells him, “I’ve been to every city in Mexico. […] Found a passport of yours in Sumatra. Missed you by about a week in Fiji. But I knew you wouldn’t miss the 50 year storm, Bodhi.”

Point Break movie image Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze

I can water-wrestle all day, man.

Wait, what? He’s been tracking him across the globe? The FBI can do that? More specifically, FBI agents who were arrested for bank robbery and accessory to murder? A half dozen people were killed in the heist/arrest that failed, and Bodhi escaped. Who put Keanu back into this case? “You know what,” said absolutely no one in the FBI, “let your hair grow long, become scruffy and unshaven in your singleminded, ruthless pursuit of Bodhi, who you were unable to shoot when you had the chance. I think sending you off alone on this case is a great idea. There’s no conflict of interest here, no past history to interfere with your police-work. Go get him, tiger.” Remember how these guys only stole small amounts of money and no one got hurt, at least until Keanu got involved? Yeah, clearly no one else does. So the boys wrestle a bit in the ocean, and then Johnny breaks out the handcuffs and cuffs them together.

Why now? we could have had so much fun earlier, when I wasn't a wanted fugitive and you weren't a surfer-hobo marginally associated with the FBI.

Why now? we could have had so much fun earlier, when I wasn’t a wanted fugitive and you weren’t a surfer-hobo marginally associated with the FBI.

Bodhi, realizing that he is caught, and knowing that he could never survive life in a cage, his spirit is just too free, pleads with Johnny to let him go surf. Johnny agrees, knowing that he will never return from waves that big, dying as he was meant to, in the bosom of the Pacific Ocean. The Australian authorities, when they arrive moments too late, are furious, “You let him go!” “No I didn’t,” Johnny responds. He watches as the waves swallow his friend, and then he walks off the beach.

Where he is no doubt promptly arrested for the colossal fuck-up of letting a murder suspect commit suicide by surfing, bank robbery, accessory to murder, fleeing the scene of a crime, fleeing the country, and impersonating a federal officer.

Road House (1989) rating: Why, oh god, why?

rhposter

The poster promises jeans and tee shirts.

Road House is a terrible film, briefly rejuvenated by Sam Elliot, but quickly defeated by absolutely everything else about it. Practically the only reason I watched this film was to see a young Patrick Swayze in tight jeans and a tee shirt. How did 1989 manage to fuck up jeans and a tee shirt so badly? The unspeakably awful clothing choices actually made Patrick Swayze unpleasant to look at.

 

 

 

 

Swayze plays Dalton, whose name evokes awed gasps from road house frequenters, since he is the bouncer among bouncers, who can clean up any bar. Oh, and he has a degree in philosophy from NYU. Just cause. You know. He’s deep. He is recruited to a bar in Missouri that has been overrun by a dangerous element. He surveys the scene, steely-eyed, from beneath an impressive mullet.

Actual line from film.

Actual line from film.

He begins to clean up the bar, but the rowdy bar patrons are merely a symptom of the whole town being owned by a rich prick named Wesley. He gets a cut from each business and extorts the owners in small ways. Of course he is infuriated by Dalton, who also happens to be dating Doc, his ex. She was enchanted by Dalton when he went to the E.R. and refused the local anesthetic while she stapled his flesh back together. She also admired his homemade stitches. Love at first sight.

It's cool, stitches ain't shit.

It’s cool, stitches ain’t shit.

Sam Elliot shows up as Wade Garrett. He is Dalton’s mentor bouncer. Apparently that’s a thing. He and Dalton join forces against Wesley, who for some reason has decided that Dalton is the biggest problem in Jasper, Missouri.

Pictured: Wade Garrett; Mentor Bouncer and Revenge Motivator

Pictured: Wade Garrett; Mentor Bouncer

Wesley begins blowing up buildings and shit, because fuck Patrick Swayze and his glorious, glorious mullet. The town cowers in fear, cause Wesley owns this town. I get it, I really do. I watch westerns. Bad men can have control over towns. But this is the 1980s, not the 1880s. Call in literally any authorities. It won’t take them days to ride their horses through the desert. They can be there that afternoon.

blazingsaddles

Someone go back and get a shitload of dimes.

Sam Elliot played Virgil Earp in Tombstone. He should know better. In fact, I think the entire film would be better if Dalton with his tai chi shit and mixed marshall arts teamed up with U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp instead of Wade Garrett. Those Earps could clean up a town.

virgil_samelliot


Not Present: Virgil Earp and his moustache; U.S. Marshal, City Marshal, and Town Tamer Extraordinaire

Where was I? Oh right. I felt myself getting stupider while watching this film. Dalton kills a guy by ripping his throat out with his bare hands. Doc is appalled. Wade gets killed. Dalton goes on a rampage killing all of Wesley’s henchmen in more conventional ways, like crushing them under a stuffed polar bear.

polarbear

This…

polarbear2

…not this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doc shows up just in time to see Dalton defeat Wesley and make his throat-ripping claw, struggle inwardly, relax his claw, become angry and make it again, several times, realizing, I guess, something about him being an ok guy.

road_house_2

Shhh, Dalton. Find your happy place…

Dalton doesn’t kill Wesley, who takes advantage of his hesitation to go for his gun. The townspeople show up and shoot him though, reclaiming their town, before hiding the guns and preparing to lie to the authorities in a massive town-wide cover up. And then Doc and Dalton live happily ever after, or at least skinny dip happily in a lake. Wait, is that really how this film ends? Yes. Yes it is.

Sabrina (1954) rating: NO, NO, NEVER, NEVER, NO, VOMIT

Why do I keep watching Sabrina? I fucking hate Sabrina. Just because I love Billy Wilder, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and Audrey Hepburn, and whenever I hear the name or see the poster my brain assumes it’s one of those classic films I love, every time I actually watch it or even actively think about it, my brain begins to vomit.

sabrina

It is a misogynistic story about three unlikeable people forming unhealthy relationships, generally with people much younger than them. Sabrina is the daughter of the chauffeur to a rich New York business family, and has harbored a lifelong crush on the younger son, playboy David (William Holden). The film opens the night before she is supposed to leave for Paris to attend cooking school, and the night of a large family party. She watches from the bushes as David romances an attractive and giggly party guest. She is so distraught that she tries to kill herself, leaving a note specifying that David not be invited to the funeral, as he probably wouldn’t even cry. Just in case we thought this was a healthy, mature infatuation. She doesn’t die, goes to Paris, learns to cook, and doesn’t get over David. When she returns to New York, she meets David, and since she is now all sophisticated and mature he doesn’t recognize her and asks her out, (forgetting the fact that he is engaged to a woman whose father is participating in a major business merger with David’s older brother, Linus). Linus is not pleased with David’s shift of affection, and when Sabrina refuses to be bought off to leave David alone, Linus decides to woo her himself, propose that they go to Paris together, and then send her on her merry way alone, while he returns to managing his successful business. So let me reiterate; David is a playboy who has been married three times before, is currently engaged, and attempting to seduce a much younger woman who has admitted to loving him her entire life. Linus is a calculating business man who is also attempting to seduce a MUCH much younger woman, who his brother claims to be in love with, with the express purpose of sending her to Europe to leave his family alone.

So the story unfolds. Sabrina is confused by her conflicted feelings, but ultimately admits to Linus, who has been ALL OVER her, that she loves him. Sabrina doesn’t forget David because she’s realized what a terrible, feckless, womanizing creep he is. NO. She just moves on to his arguably worse older brother, who isn’t deluding anyone except Sabrina about his intentions. So yes, she falls in love with Linus, who at the last minute feels bad about what he’s doing to her. Not bad enough to do anything different, mind, just bad enough to tell her that he was never going to be on the boat with her. Crushing her hopes now, instead of tomorrow. Good man. But wait…is Linus actually in love with Sabrina? Yes, he must be, since he punches David when David insults her. Wow, it must be true love. And Sabrina takes him back. I hope you’re very happy together.

Linus, you can’t kiss your brother’s girlfriend by saying “It’s all in the family.” Fuck you, Humphrey, that is not cool man. “If I were only ten years younger…” No man, try fucking thirty years younger. You are more than twice her age. You were born in the 1800s. She is younger than Lauren Bacall. NO.

 

 

Prometheus (2012) rating: so-so

So I saw Prometheus last night. Since I had no expectations I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a good way to go through life. So basically, aliens created life on Earth and scientists are studying cave paintings which suggest a prehistoric alien presence on Earth. They decide the painting are an invitation for humans to go meet their creators, and hop aboard a space ship to do so. It seems in the not-too-distant-future, robots can appear human, long distance space travel is possible, and underwear has been replaced by cleverly wrapped ace bandages. They arrive at the planet only to find the remains of a civilization, apparently destroyed by another alien species. Philosophical questions about the nature of religion in a scientific world trouble the scientists. The crew starts dying. The usual

It would be hard for me to talk about this film and not compare it to the original Alien, so I won’t. Prometheus wasn’t as good as Alien. There I said it. A lot of the appeal of Alien is its simplicity. (Also, in Alien they wore real underwear.) We’re in space, we encounter evil killing machine, we fight for survival, Ripley, last surviving member of the Nostromo signing off. Got it? Good. It’s to the point, the characters are believable and feel like real people, the story unfolds naturally, and it is terrifying. One of my biggest issues with Prometheus was that the plot felt too contrived.

Noomi Rapace, modeling the underwear of the galactic and intergalactic future. It seems technology has taken a step backward in the lingerie department.

It seemed as if everyone had an agenda, although it was difficult to actually determine anyone’s motives, and their differing (and secret) agendas moved the plot along, but the reasons for their actions were never really resolved. There seemed to be a few too many minor characters whose function was never really explained, and a lack of command structure, which is difficult even when everyone has their own agenda, and becomes more challenging as people keep dying, passing control around like a hot potato. It didn’t make sense to me that the entire crew of the Prometheus was woken up and gathered together after spending two years in space and then their mission was explained to them. They honestly couldn’t have done that back on Earth?

But now to the high point. An android tends to chores on the ship. I was delighted that the android was played by Michael Fassbender, although I was unnerved by how blond he was. I still tried to work with it, because I love Michael Fassbender. He has a lot of time on his hands, because the rest of the crew is sleeping, so he kills time by learning alien languages and watching films. My eyes widened with surprised delight to see that the film was Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence is demonstrating how to put out a match with your fingers, and Michael Fassbender is repeating all of Peter O’Toole’s lines, practicing his inflections. He then combs back his blond hair, clearly imitating Peter O’Toole. This is possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I considered leaving the theater, because there was no way the rest of the film could match that moment. However, I hung in there. Later on, as the crew flies over the desert, looking for alien life, Michael Fassbender says, “There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing.” After that, I should have walked out, because the rest of the film was mediocre, and there were no more Lawrence of Arabia references. So I could say it was telling that a brief clip of Michael Fassbender imitating Lawrence of Arabia was my absolute favorite part, but that was so overwhelmingly awesome that it would take a pretty fucking fantastic film to top that.

Michael Fassbender, channeling Peter O’Toole.

So, since I found most of the characters bland and underdeveloped, if not outright annoying (why did Charlize Theron have to be such a bitch? I honestly didn’t know if she was supposed to be a robot,) I had hoped the film would focus on the character of David, the robot, more than it did. It seemed to make perfect sense; the point is to ‘meet your maker,’ to confront your creator and speak to them about your creation. Frankenstein is the modern Prometheus, wouldn’t a robot be the slightly more modern Prometheus? David was created for convenience, and the unsatisfying relationship he has with his makers mirrors the unsuccessful reunion with the creators of humanity. Yet he waffles back and forth between a perfect gentlemen, a sneaky poisoner, a devoted son, and a helpful companion, with no clear reasons for the different actions.

Also, when will scientists learn not to name their ships after mythical creatures? It never ends well. My favorite is the ship Icarus in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Really, a ship going to the sun should be named after the boy who plummeted to his death after flying to close to the sun? And the ship vanishes so you get another one together and name it the Icarus II? Are you really asking for trouble that much? Call it like Success-Ship, or something. Ship-Win. Anything else.

Prometheus, doing what he does.

Prometheus was the fire-bringer, creator of man-kind, who made men equal to gods. Great. But you know what happened to him? He was punished, chained to a rock and had his liver eaten out, every day, for eternity, until he was freed by Hercules. Don’t name your ship after that guy. Especially in a film franchise that is all about alien rape and is filled with uncomfortable penetrations and removals of alien creatures from the human body, don’t compare yourself to the guy who had his liver eaten out. Please. Do us all a favor.

Change of Plans and The Thin Man (1934) rating: delightful!

Jake says I need to keep writing, but I protest that I am only good at writing about movies I hate, since I do scornful sarcasm better than genuine excitement. Clearly my old structure is no good, so I’ve decided to switch to inane ramblings about whatever I’ve seen recently, or in this case, dreamed about recently, because what is the internet for if not that? I hope that’s OK with you, Jon, since you’re my only reader.

So movies. Yeah. Last night I dreamed about Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man. Odd, you may say, but it’s better than dreaming that George Kennan, American ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1940s and subject of Jake’s thesis, was living in a nursing home on Charlemont, Massachusetts, and that it was my job as a raft guide to interview him, as I dreamed the night before.

So The Thin Man (1934) is a wonderful movie. The book was written in the early 30s, so it is pretty much a hard-boiled detective novel, and was the last thing Dashiell Hammett ever wrote. However, it was made before the genre of film noir really developed, so it’s like a hard-boiled sitcom. Nick Charles is an ex-private eye who has married the wealthy Nora and settled down to a life of hard drinking and domestic happiness with his wife and their dog Asta. Hammett apparently based the banter between Nick and Nora on his real relationship with play-write Lillian Hellman. Clyde Wynant, an old client of Nicks, goes missing after his secretary is murdered, and although Nick wants nothing to do with the case, he becomes increasingly entangled with the extremely dysfunctional Wynant family. A string of Wynants, cops, and criminals begin traipsing through the Charles’s hotel rooms, threatening, blackmailing, and confessing various things to various people, as the pieces of the case begin to fall together.

Nick, Nora, and Asta.

Of course the real wonder of the film is the language. William Powell and Myrna Loy are awesome, snapping off zingers without missing a beat. Nora, when asked if her husband is working on a case, replies, “Yes, a case of scotch.” They all drink so much that you feel tipsy and hungover because of the sheer amount of alcohol consumed in the hour and a half of this prohibition era film. I really cannot stress enough the quantity of hard liquor that is drunk. It boggles the mind.

Nick Charles, seen here preparing to drink.

Nick Charles is definitely the nicest of all the hard boiled private eyes. William Powell always looks sort of daft and bemused, although you know that he actually knows exactly what’s going on all the time. In my dream I remember thinking that one of his great gifts was being able to say exactly what he meant, and have the person he was speaking too go away thinking the exact opposite. I have no idea what that means, but I thought it very clearly in my sleep, and in my sleep thought it a remarkably true and succinct statement. Either way, I would definitely want to hang out with Nick Charles, although I would probably die of alcohol poisoning from mere proximity.

Clash of the Titans (2010) 1/2*

So, I watched “Clash of the Titans” on a plane.  I am, of course, familiar with and fond of the Ray Harryhausen claymation version, which has its limitations but is still a big part of my childhood.  However, I decided that to watch the new one for shits and giggles.  It was shit, and I giggled.  I can not even express how terrible this movie was.  It goes beyond words.  But, nevertheless, I will give a valiant effort.  Where to begin?  Stylistically, thematically, ascetically?

I'm loving the sword placement here.

First of all, Sam Worthington.  He is like a poor man’s Russel Crowe, less attractive and a worse actor.  I read, about either this film or Terminator: Salvation, that the Australian accent is the easiest in the world to suppress, so it must be on purpose that this Greek Perseus sounds like he’s never been out of the Outback.  At first you think they’re doing this weird, Ancient World so we sound British thing, but he’s actually mega-Australian sounding.  And it looks like they give up even trying about 20 minutes into the film.

So after his adopted family is killed in a shipwreck, (the family that brought him up after he was chucked into the sea.  More on that later)  he arrives in Argos.  He’s just in time to see Queen Cassiopeia blaspheme against the gods by claiming her daughter Andromeda is more beautiful than Aphrodite.  Hades shows up and eats all the soldiers, and demands Andromeda’s life.  Suddenly, everyone in Argos decides that this angsty, orphaned fisherman with his sweet montage skills is the guy to save the city from the Kracken.  I mean, he learned some pretty serious swordfighting in one scene.  He also knows a hell of a lot about riding horses for someone who GREW UP ON A BOAT.

I'm on a boat. Motherfucker.

So they all go to seek the Fates, who tell them to get Medusa to kill the Kraken.  But Calibos, remember him?  the weird mutant man who lives in the swamp with the helmet of invisbility?   In the original film he was the daughter of someone and was punished.  Don’t remember exactly.  So in this, there is no helmet of invisibility, and he’s Perseus’s father, or, like, husband of Perseus’s mother, who was basically sent to the swamp for being an asshole.  And also, Zeus slept with his wife because her husband defied the gods.  AND, he did it disguised as her husband.  That’s getting into some serious King Uther territory, because, if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Zeus a shower of gold in this story?

 

But that’s cool, I guess.  It’s not exactly true to the myth, but at least it’s reminiscent.  In the myth Perseus’s grandfather hears a prophecy that his grandson will kill him, and thus conspires to keep his daughter childless.  But Zeus foils that by impregnating her as a shower of gold.  I guess having him assume a human, male form makes a little more sense than that.  But here, Zeus is pissed that Calibos has defied the gods, so disguises himself as Calibos and knocks up his wife.  Then, when Calibos

Why am I in this film?

throws his wife and her son into the sea, Zeus strikes him with lightning, turning him into a monster.  Zeus does not take kindly to people defying the gods.  Oh, and Calibos’s blood drops turn into scorpions, which happened in the story to Medusa, not Calibos.  And then they meet these weird djinn in the desert who help them fight the scorpions.  They’re like wicker men who glow blue inside.  And, randomly, Medusa can’t turn them into stone. That makes no sense.  But she can crush them to death.

Eternal youth?

Oh, but the best part, sort of, is that Io has been cursed with eternal youth, (Tithonus was a mortal man who was granted eternal life, but he withered and got so old he became a cricket, and Endymion was a mortal man who was granted eternal sleep, and thus never aged.  Io was just turned into a cow.  None of them have anything at all to do with the myth of Perseus.) So, Io has been watching Perseus grow up.  AND, she decides to go on the mission with him to find the fates.  AND they fall in love.  And she’s killed by Calibos while they’re hunting Medusa.  Bummer.  Are we now returning to the real myth where Perseus marries Andromeda?  No.  After Perseus rescues Andromeda, he turns to walk away and she says, “you’re leaving?  Argos needs a leader.”  this leads to my favorite line, because he’s been protesting his demi-god status

Cow.

the entire film, whining “I’m just a man.  I don’t want to be a demi-god.”  So he tells Andromeda, “I could serve you better as a man.”  I certainly chortled loudly enough to have my neighbor shoot me an odd look.  As if I hadn’t been cackling and talking to myself throughout the entire film anyway.  And then Perseus walks away, choosing not to serve her as a man.  He then runs into Zeus who says that Perseus could join the ranks of the immortals, but Perseus is like, “Haven’t you been fucking listening to anything I’ve said the entire film?  I’m just a man. I hate the gods.”   So Zeus is like, well, if you’re going to live the boring insignificant life of a mortal, you shouldn’t do it alone.  And he vanishes and Io reappears.  WTF?  End of film.

 
So, aside from all that blatant disregard for the story, the entire theme of the film was that the gods should just leave us the fuck alone.  Throughout the entire film Perseus is angsting because gods killed his human family.  And he refuses to ever pray to Zeus, because gods just meddle and suck.  Plus, everyone is using these incorrect Christian terms, like sin, and Hell and shit, when that was so not what Greek worship was about.  And they were wearing their leather skirt things, like all Greek heroes wear, and they were so fucking short.  And even I was like, I don’t need to see this much of your bare thigh, really.  Put on some tights or something.


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