is back, more or less recovered, and living off of left-overs and the crumbly detritus at the bottom of cookie tins, all traces of chocolate chip or peanut butter confectioneries long having since become one with my being. In theory, the Wii Fit comes out from its dusty hiding spot under the TV stand, the salads become a dietary staple, and I actually get up off my ever-widening ass to take advantage of the yawning chasm of dead zone about to begin. It's the beginning of a long stretch of nothing.
There are no holidays worth mentioning (good) and it's the time when Hollywood dumps what it doesn't understand (or already KNOWS is crap) onto the theatrical market (mostly bad). Sure, you'll get the occasional "Taken"
but mostly it's dreck like "27 Dresses"
or, arguably, my least favorite film of 2009, "Bride Wars"
. Of course, if you're not me, now is the time that all the Oscar films go from limited to wide release and you can catch those possible nominees in plenty of time before the March 7th ceremony. I've already seen 'em all, so I'm stuck with almost-certain-to-be-crap like "Tooth Fairy"
Sometimes, the stuff that looks bad on the outside can have a winning and very unique glow all it's own though. Even though it wasn't a January release, that brings me to #8 on my BEST OF 2009 list...
#8: CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE
Some folks are gonna be pissed about this one or they'll feel justified in dismissing me as a critic that can be taken seriously. I got news for ya. That seven year old kid I once was who sat in a movie theater bowled over by the adventures of Luke Skywalker
is the reason I became the person I am today. It's an easy and all too human mistake to make after listening to some of the folks out there who started reading Cahiers du cinéma
and forgot to keep up with Fangoria
, to mix up 'art'
with 'not containing fantasy'
or whatever else is the thing in films that might personally get on your tit. Sometimes it seems like for most folks, the more they pursue an interest in film, the more narrow minded they get. I'm not saying that anybody is wrong for not enjoying "Crank 2"
as much as I did, I've just heard a lot of arguments about how by the nature of what it is, it can't be discussed seriously. *yawn*
When I look at my favorite films of the year, I look for the movies that had an effect on me, that I kept thinking about long afterward, and often, those that showed me something new. "Crank: High Voltage"
may be a sequel, but it DEFINITELY gave me something so wildly inventive that it was impossible to merely write-off as colorful trash. Its crazed exploitative theme, following an electrically charged Jason Statham
around LA while he kills lots of folks looking for the mobster who stole his heart (quite literally) before his artificial one in its place runs out of juice, is a bizarre idea that is supercharged to a major visual event film by the ever-changing conceptual direction of Mark Neveldine
and Brian Taylor
. It's run-and-gun creative film making at its most experimental, fusing some of the high-octane style of the brilliant Shinya Tsukamoto
with American exploitation film themes. Add in the manic score by appropriately matched musical madman Mike Patton
and you've got one of the most eminently re-watchable cult films since the "Evil Dead 2"
. Of course, I probably wouldn't watch it if I was prone to seizures. Just warning ya.
BEST OF: DOCUMENTARIES: "BEST WORST MOVIE"
"Best Worst Movie"
is a look at the cult addiction to a crap fest from 1990, "Troll 2"
. Or is it? Some of these folks have taken the love of incompetent movie making and made it into personal addiction, as near as I can tell. But, as "Best Worst Movie" addresses, there's something to all of this.
Original child star of the film being discussed, Michael Stephenson
, actually directed the charming documentary. The story of the strange adoration of the super-low-budget film is told by following around George Hardy
, an engaging fellow who played the father of Stephenson
's character and is quite literally impossible to not love. He's a total charmer who embraces the odd latter-day love "Troll 2"
has mysteriously manifested and tours around to various film festivals showing it, also along the way gathering up some of the rest of the cast. What you get is not only quite funny, for some of these folks are just as unbelievably oddball as the characters in the film they played, but is touchingly human. While fame is often merely fifteen minutes worth, as Andy Warhol
said, what we don't see usually is the moment that folks realize that their celebrity status in these situations is limited, that disappointment as the excitement dies down around them, and they either make peace with it appreciating what they had, or they live in denial for the rest of their lives (I'm looking at you, Kirk Cameron
). "Best Worst Movie"
is both smart and funny, and if you can find the damn thing, is COMPLETELY worth your time.
Ok, so maybe I wouldn't get a tattoo or anything but after seeing this and falling in love with it, it was time to give "Troll 2" another chance. Is it art? Um, no. Not even a little. But it is a happy accident of an entire film, such a mess but made with sincerity from everyone involved that it's hard not to grok what these uber-fans are feeling. It's laughing at something with affection and I can get behind that. "You can't piss on hospitality!"
(watch the movie, you'll understand).