Friday, May 17, 2013

Yet More Odds and Ends: Cult Fun Edition

RV!: The Cable Guy (1996) Dir: Ben Stiller Date Released: June 14, 1996 Date Seen: November 24, 2012 Rating: 4/5

385) Penn and Teller Get Killed (1989) Dir: Arthur Penn Date Released: September 22, 1989 Date Seen: November 27, 2012 Rating: 4/5

392) Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) Dir: John Hyams Date Released: November 30, 2012 Date Seen: Decemer 2, 2012 Rating: 4/5

The Cable Guy: Wow, this holds up really well. Jim Carrey's performance is inspired, maybe the best among his '90s comedies. And the film's dialogue is generally on-point, and rarely so ostentatious, or so clunky that I felt alienated by its immodest ambition. Still, this, like the two other films in this round-up, is a very strong cult film. It's a black comedy that thankfully follows through on its premise, but that premise is so myopic in its appeal and scope that I can't help but feel that stumping for its canonization is a fool's errand. I don't know if I want to be that fool, is what I'm saying. I do however think The Cable Guy is very funny in that cynical, but infantile way Ben Stiller used to do so well.

Penn and Teller Get Killed: Having never really been a Penn and Teller devotee, I was pleasantly surprised by this cult comedy. I particularly dug its creators' blithely arrogant assumptions about narcissism, and suicide. Essentially: once you start to invest serious thought into the delusion that somebody's out to get you, you start to fantasize about killing yourself. I also love that the film's conclusion mocks/exaggerates the snuff film's intended effect: you see someone die, your own sense of self is destabilized--and then you want to die. Then the next person that sees you die, dies. And so on. Again, Get Killed is a strictly for-fans-only proposition. But how will you know if you're a fan unless you give it a go, right? My grandpa used to love Penn and Teller; he recorded Bullshit! off of TV all the time. I wonder if my grandma still has his old tapes...I doubt it, but maybe.*

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning: I think this is as dementedly kinetic, and delightfully unclean as I remember, but I could be wrong. I really dug Hyams's virtuosic direction, and appreciated the hyper-serious-ness he brought to an otherwise unglamorous gig. That having been said, I wouldn't care if Hyams wasn't so good at being heavy-handed. I agree 100% with Richard Brody when he says that the film is immediately intriguing because of how hard Hyams tries to show us what's going on inside his characters' heads. Hyams mostly succeeds, I think, and Day of Reckoning is consequently a darkly comic (that POV brain surgery scene is a doozy!), and even well-choreographed action movie. Also, hey, I cared about a JCVD movie. How'd that happen?

*Gah, I did it again, writing about a movie that I already blurbed up here. Still, the above blurb is probably a better blurb than that earlier one. So, meh.

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