Sunday, May 30, 2004

Some thoughts instead of a review

Last night Mary and I went to see "The Day After Tomorrow" the new Roland Emmerich-helmed disaster flick about massive sudden global climate change. I was originally going to write a review of it, but since you can read those pretty much anywhere, I thought I would offer instead a few reflections that I had whilst watching and talking about the movie.

.5) "The Day After" is a much much better title than "The Day After Tomorrow".

1) We need a new definition of "indie film" or perhaps we need to scrap the category all together. What does it mean, precisely? Does it mean "not made by a big studio"? If so, then "Attack of the Clones" is an indie movie. Does it mean "executed with creative control by the director"? If so, then "The Day After Tomorrow" is an indie film par excellance, it's co-written, co-produced and directed by one man who has a relentlessly single minded focus on a specific type of movie. But it is clearly not what we mean when we say "indie" film. So what does the term mean?

2) The film is shockingly not-bad. That doesn't necessarily mean that it is good. It is a ridiculous cgi fest filled with cardboard cutout characters, clunky dialogue and one particularly laughable section involving wolves so poorly animated they look like they came out of "Clash of the Titans". That being said, as a retread of the 70's disaster flick, the film is tense, hopeful fun.

3) Having lived through a disaster movie two and a half years ago, let me offer some tips to the Emmerich and the rest of his staff: after witnessing something horrible (like a tital wave hit midtown Manhattan) and surviving/escaping it, the next scene between you and your friends would be one of shell shock, not comaraderie and tactical plannning. I remember September 11th, I remember sitting in someone's apartment, someone who I didn't even know that well but fuck it we went to college together and I had her phone number on me somewhere, and staring at the TV, unable to even cry as the BBC played shot after shot after shot of the plane. Talking was pretty much pointless. Someone would crack a joke every now and then and someone would distantly giggle. This is the horror of experience horror, the fact that for awhile it kills you even if you are actually still alive. And then the guilt sets in. Also, when survivors of tragedy find out there are other survivors, they would most likely WEEP, not SMILE KNOWINGLY because everythings gonna be okay.

4) The movie is beautiful. Except for the aforementioned terrible CGI shots, the movie is gorgeous.

5) The left-wing-isses-checklist that the movie runs down is HILARIOUS. There's global climate change, immigration, homelessness, pollution, human kindness and empathy, weak Presidents paired with domineering VPs etc. It's great. If you're a registered Democrat, you'll probably get a big knowing kick out of the film.

6) A far more interesting version of this movie would have been the following: The action takes place after the global climate change has already occured. Everyone knows that NYC freezes over because we've seen the ads. So anyway, we focus on the absentee father character, Jack (played by Dennis Quaid), as he ventures from Washington D.C. to NYC to find his son. That way we get as many shots of white-hued destruction as possible (because this is what is best about this movie especially a lake of frozen corpses straight out of Dante's "Inferno") and you can have all the Jack London style survivalist kicks anyone could ever want. Anyway, so we follow Jack and his party as they make their way North, not knowing what they will find. As he travels (in largely dialogue free "The Fast Runner" like segments) we cut with flashbacks where we learn how we got there. In the end, he doesn't find his son (who we learn is alive, but simply unfindable) and instead helps some people form a new society. Or something. I haven't figured out the ending, but the sea-of-white existential quest to find someone almost certainly dead would be more suspenseful, artful and interesting.

7) Keifer Sutherland used to be the low-rent Dennis Quaid. Since the start of "24", Dennis Quaid has become the low-rent Keifer Sutherland. I think soon it's gonna switch back again, but I'm not sure.

8) To answer the questions posed by the gang of 9 incredibly noisy teenagers sitting right behind me in no particular order: That was not Tobey Maguire, that was Jake Gyllenhall, although they do look a lot alike. Also, that was not the girl from "The Princess Diaries" that Jake Gyllenhall was in love with. That actres is Anne Hathaway, whereas Emily Rossum is in "The Day After Tomorrow". You may have seen her in "Mystic River" then again, probably not. Also, I don't know if the movie could reall happen, to tell you the truth, although I'm going to talk with my father about it (he's a scientist who knows a lot about this kind of thing). I think it could probably happen, just no where near that quickly. Also, that black guy hanging out with Ian Holm in Northern Scotland was most decidedly not the black kid from Parenthood, who's father, to answer another one of your questions, was played by Tom Hulce. None of the actors in this movie were in Harry Potter.

9) To answer some questions not posed by the gang of 9 sitting behind me: Yes, breathing on someone's neck bothers them, but not as much as screaming in their ear. No, you are not supposed to talk on your cell phone during a movie. Yes, you almost certainly ruined the movie going experience of everyone sitting anywhere near by you. No, "I'll write you letters" is a terrible pick up line. Yes, I will call the manager the next time I'm sitting anywhere near you.

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