Monday, December 8, 2008

At the Movies, 12/7/08

Mank seems to have found a niche on At the Movies: smacking around Ben Lyons. It started with a series of episodes in which Mank told the yapping puppy to "Calm down"--this seemed to happen so often I started wondering if they were going to add it to their rating system, placing it somewhere between "See it" and "Rent it".

We saw it this week over the movie Cadillac Records, the one ratings disagreement between the Bens Mankiewicz and Lyons. the latter said "Rent it" and the former said "Skip it". More than that, Mank said, "There is not one authentic moment of human discourse in the entire movie." Well, at least that's unequivocal--although he still found a way to praise some of the performances. But the zinger came when Lyons said he liked the period material and Mank responded, "I hear you, but to me that sounds like an excuse." That is, an excuse for not saying "Skip it".

How did Lyons respond? He didn't! In fact, no matter what course the argument takes, Lyons keeps mugging for the camera with his big goofy smile. Daddy said to always smile for the camera so I do! I finally realized that this is one of the reasons why people hate Lyons so much, even when he is not giving a totally ridiculous "criticism" (or recommendation) of a movie. Especially when he is introducing a movie, he just keeps a cheezy grin on his face, even if it is a crappy movie that he hated (although fortunately he is smart enough to turn it off when talking about old ladies heads being blown up in Punisher).

Lyons criticized Punisher saying, "I don't find it necessary to see uniformed police officers being stabbed and beaten for no apparent reason." Fair enough, although one has to ask whether Max Payne would have benefited from more of this.

And speaking of inappropriately introducing a movie, Lyons segues to the commercial before the review of The Reader with, "From Oprah's Book Club to a theater near you!" I assume that is meant as a compliment and I know Oprah recommends a lot of high quality fiction, but it gives the whole thing a a name-dropping, blurby quality to it. I have nothing against Oprah per-se, but the entire book publishing industry has been distortred by her Book Club recommendations, with writers pitching books to publishers as being "perfect for Oprah". I am not sure that any publicist would actually put this gush on the poster for The Reader, especially since lot of better known critics praising the movie, but it sounds more like a blurb than a critique.

Finally, we get the DVD picks and 3 to See. Lyons recommends The Dark Knight (who wouldn't?) but can't help himself with the Oscar gushing. He turns to Mank and says, "Mank, do you think the movie gets nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars?" (What, no mention of the Critics' Choice Awards?) Mank responds, "I doubt it, and I don't even think it's the best movie of the year. If any superhero movie gets nominated I'd like to see Iron Man, but I doubt either of them will."

Am I the only person who thinks that Iron Man is highly overrated? Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. was fantastic as the rich, arrogant asshole Tony Stark, but otherwise it was a mediocre action movie with good special effects. How you can say it is better than TDK I'll never understand. Having said that, while Ben Lyons put TDK as the top film of the summer, he made Iron Man second--and Wall-E didn't even make the list!

This is followed with Lyons's list of other movies available on DVD--including Step Brothers. Just so you know that it's out there, but no mention, of course, of whether you would actually want to even "Rent it". Just regurgitating a list you could look up on the Internet.

Finally, we get Mank's 3 to See: Frost/Nixon, Milk, and Madagascar 2. Hmmm, which one of those does not belong? No Let the Right One In or Slumdog Millionaire, fantastic movies that could actually use the publicity? Still, Lyons responds, "This might be the first time that I agree with all the films you picked. Well done, Mank." Maybe it's just me, but I thought Mank's expression portrayed a note of well covered, "Shut up, you idiot, I don't need your validation."


Anonymous said...

I thought Iron Man was very good and I never, ever go to superhero movies. I gave it 10/10 on IMDB but I have a feeling my rating might be lower on a second viewing.

The Dark Knight got an 8 out of 10 from me on IMDB, which does not quite make sense as I'd say it's the better movie.

And Wall-E is enchanting but not good enough to be nominated for Best Picture.

Scott said...

Yeah, and I see that Roger Ebert included it on his top 20 of 2008 list, so I suspect that I am the only one.

Anonymous said...

I had the chance to see The Dark Knight today at the Moma and I'd upgrade it to a 10/10 although I still think it's overlong and the plot is amazingly convoluted.

Michael Phillips had a good point when he said that if a genre movie like Lord of the Rings can be nominated for and win Best Picture, there is no reason why a great comic book movie couldn't.