Monday, January 05, 2015

Cinema consumed: The Interview, Tusk

For those who have not yet found it online, The Interview is now playing at Hollywood 3 second-run cinemas in Surrey and Pitt Meadows. I caught it with a friend at the latter theatre for an admission price of $4.75, along with about 30 other filmgoers on this very rainy BC Sunday. The film is fun, but it's so trivial/ forgettable that it's somewhat hard to believe it could provoke such a drastic real-world reaction, with the US presently imposing sanctions on North Korea over the hubbub, and God-knows-what still coming down the chute. It's certainly no more provocative than Team America: World Police (though quite a bit funnier), and several magnitudes less cruel, less revealing, and less serious in intent than The Red Chapel, which is a film that deserved to provoke an international incident (and a far better film to seek out if you're wanting reflective film fare involving North Korea). The tone of The Interview's comedy is closer to that of Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (which offers a similarly sympathetic, humanizing pothead's-eye view of a monstrous figure in world politics, George W. Bush). It's irresponsible cinema, maybe - presuming to twiddle in the realm of international politics without seeming to have much concern for its repercussions; and if there is any element of a "publicity stunt" at work here then whoever is responsible should face legal consequences. It's also a film that non-fans of Franco, who is really excessive here, will find aggravating. Still, my friend Marina Sonkina used to opine that the central question worth asking of a comedy - maybe the only one - is whether or not it is funny; that this trumps all other considerations of politics, responsiblity, etc. And The Interview is funny. I laughed often. Not as much as I would have liked - it's not as inspired as This Is The End - but I was certainly amused enough for $4.75, and glad to have seen it. I have spent more money on films I enjoyed far less.
Speaking of potheads, though, you know what isn't funny? Kevin Smith's Tusk. It flickered so briefly on screens last year that I barely noticed it, and only just caught up with it tonight. I had quite enjoyed Red State and thought that Smith might actually be turning over a new leaf with that film (though I never believed he would retire; he loves attention far too much. Instead, he's made an absurdly trivial movie, in many (but not all) aspects describable as"The Human Centipede with walruses." Or maybe Sssssss with walruses, if you remember that film. It reads like something a couple of stoned buddies came up with on a lark, giggling insanely at the prospect of someone surgically altering other people in this manner. (Some of the actual giggling over the idea plays over the credits, note). Lots of things can seem funny and brilliant when you're not in your right mind, but apparently Smith hasn't learned to discriminate between the ideas you have when you're high that seem great but aren't, and the ones that are truly inspired... or else he just doesn't come down long enough to engage in sober consideration of his projects in the cold light of day (which I would recommend he start doing). Johnny Depp has a lot of fun with an uncredited, heavily-made-up role, and Michael Parks is great, as always, but the end product is just ridiculous (especially if you're a fan of The Human Centipede and Sssssss; it's almost like a piss-take on those films). It's possible I chose the wrong companion to view Tusk with, mind you - my 84 year old Mom didn't think much of it - but I think my patience would have been tried even under optimum viewing conditions (which presumably involve one or two cinema-savvy friends and a bag of bud). Smith apparently plans to do two more Canadian-set horror films, including something involving a killer moose on the rampage, entitled Moose Jaws. If he indeed is committed to that course, hopefully he will grow out of the "aboot" and "eh" jokes and references to the Bob and Doug McKenzie coo-roo-coos. It's kind of hard to believe he lived in Canada for any length of time (no doubt the real joke occurs on the level of meta-humour, that we're being encouraged to laugh at the unfunniness of the jokes, but...).

No comments: