The Curator of Schlock #30 by Jeffrey Shuster
Slumming Through Oscar Nominees
A funny thing happened in the middle of my typing up my review for Battle Beyond the Stars last week. My MacBook Pro Air laptop thingamagig died on me. So Space Opera month got officially ruined and my MacBook is still in limbo until I get word from the Mac store. Still, you guys are in for a treat. Last Saturday, I decided to partake in the Downtown Disney AMC Oscar Nominee marathon with Dusty Mondy, bass player and yodler for Alias Punch and co-creator of the hot sauce known as Goofy Boots. What can I say? He’s a renaissance man. They only showed 5 of the 9 nominees that Saturday, but my eyes were about ready to fall out of my head by the time we got to the fifth movie. Normally, I wouldn’t dare to critique such mainstream cinema since I’m the Curator of Schlock and schlock. I’m in a bad mood this week.
Bruce Dern plays a messed up old guy who thinks he won a million dollars through some magazine contest and wants to go to Nebraska to collect it. I remember Bruce Dern from that movie about the plants in the space station. I think director Alexander Payne was trying to go for gritty realistic look because I could see every one of Bruce Dern’s nose hairs and how they were connected to his beard. Stacy Keach shows up at some point and he plays a real creep, which is always nice to see. I think Dusty Mondy mentioned how he liked that movie was shot in black and white. Yeah, you don’t that too often these days. Roger Ebert once remarked how there’s a timeless quality to black and white movies and I expect I’ll be watching Nebraska again in ten years remarking on how timeless it is.
Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips in Captain Phillips, a movie about a captain whose ship gets overrun by Somali pirates. Four Somali pirates. Four emaciated Somali pirates. But they do have machine guns. One of them walks right up to Captain Phillips and says, “I’m the Captain!” I got so angry when I heard that. I wanted to yell at the screen, “No, you’re not!” The pirates stumble around the ship. One of them steps barefoot onto shattered glass and another gets kidnapped by members of the crew. Captain Phillips gives them $30,000 if they’ll just the ship alone and go on their merry way. They take the $30,000 and kidnap Captain Phillips before they leave. Will Captain Phillips survive? It was on the news. You should know the end to this story. Dusty Mondy didn’t like the shaky cam employed in the shooting of this picture. True, half of the time you couldn’t really see what was going on, but it made me kind of seasick so if that was the goal of director Paul “Which-one-was-The Bourne-Ultimatum?” Greengrass, mission accomplished!
I don’t like Joaquin Phoenix’s mustache in Her. Maybe that’s the point. It just sort of curls up into his nostrils. This might play out better on the small screen, but his mustache made me uncomfortable every time I had to gaze up at it. Dusty Mondy likes to sit up close when he goes to the movies, but facial hair should be enjoyed at distance. Anyway, Her is about a near future society that’s about as awful as you can imagine. The people in the future dress in high-wasted cashmere pants, drink juiced drinks, play stupid motion-controlled video games, and talk incessantly into earpieces while ignoring the world around them. And before you make a snarky comment about that being our world, be rest assured that you have no idea. If I live to see the future as presented in Her, I will become a super villain.
This is the movie that would never end and I mean that in the worst possible way. I don’t know if this movie would have been improved if it had been cut down from 138 minutes. Too many characters and a plot about the Abscam sting operation that seems to go nowhere for the majority of the picture. Which is a shame because we have an all-star cast here: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C. K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea Wigham, and Robert De Niro. I have no idea how this movie got nominated. Maybe half the Academy voters starred in it? Dusty Mondy remarked that he’d seen this movie before, that it reminded him of Boogie Nights. I saw Boogie Nights in the theater. It was a lot better than American Hustle.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in Gravity from director Alfonso Cuarón. They play a couple of astronauts who are busy repairing a satellite when all hell breaks loose. It seems that the Russians decided to blow up one of their satellites because they hate the world and knew such actions would cause half of North America to lose their Facebook access. Bullock and Clooney dodge debris and run into dead astronauts with holes in their faces. We learn that Sandra Bullock is a medical doctor whose daughter died because she bumped her head while playing on the school playground. I guess that’s supposed to help with her character arc or something. Dusty Mondy hated this picture with a passion, but I say any movie that can show a 3D Marvin the Martian figurine floating in space can’t be all that bad. And I’m heartened that a movie that bears all the hallmarks of schlock can still get a Best Picture nomination.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.