Sunday, February 01, 2009

Miscellaneous: Stuff

Taken (U.S. 2009). Luc Besson knows how to make action films – sturdy, slick, a little sleazy – and he delivers the goods once again. There hasn’t been a kill-your-way-up-the-ladder movie in a while. Having the villains be members of a human trafficking ring means that ex-CIA op Liam Neeson could off them twice and they’d still deserve it.

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, by Charlie Huston (2009). Huston’s latest, about an LA slacker who becomes a crime scene cleaner, felt kinda slight to me. But the chapter in which our hero spends a boozy afternoon with his estranged father, a teacher turned one-shot novelist turned semi-legendary if unproduced screenwriter, is a scorching character study and the best piece of writing I’ve encountered in a while.

The Swinger (1966). Some rubicon has clearly been crossed. Once I could watch bad movies with relish. Now I keep a finger poised over fast forward. The button got quite the workout during this exercise in ersatz ‘60s hipness, with Ann-Margret as a decent Midwestern girl pretending to be a hellion so she can be published in a smut rag. (I didn’t get it either.) There were so many Dutch angles I thought I’d stumbled onto A-M playing a forgotten Batman villain, The Vixen. During her striptease to “That Old Black Magic” I wanted to put my wallet in her mouth so she wouldn’t swallow her tongue. For further appreciation, consult the title sequence.

Bars of Black and White. An interesting hand-drawn Flash game.