What I’ve Caught Up With, January 2023 Part 2:
Film: The Doors (1991)
I’m not in the right generation to be a huge Jim Morrison fan. Both of my older brothers were at least marginal fans of The Doors, though. Try as I might, though, it’s hard for me not to see Jim Morrison as a handful of pretentious bullshit. Couple that with the overblown style of Oliver Stone, and you’re going to get something that wants to be a lot more meaningful than I think it is. Val Kilmer does a solid job as Morrison, and the rest of the band—Kyle Maclachlan as Ray Manzarek, Frank Whaley as Robby Krieger, and Kevin Dillon as John Densmore—are also good. Meg Ryan as Morrison’s longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson feels like a strange cast. Ultimately, this feels like a lot of bombast.
Film: The Way Back (2020)
I don’t always like Ben Affleck as an actor, but there are times when I have to admit that he can still do the work. The Way Back is an instance of this. Former basketball player and current ironworker Jack Cunningham (Affleck) is a functional alcoholic dealing with a crumbled marriage, a son dead from cancer, and a dead end life. He is offered a job coaching at his old alma mater and reluctantly takes the job as a sort of redemption. The Way Back starts out as The Bad News Bears and ends up being something much deeper, darker, and far better. Suffice to say that what would be the end of a lesser film is just the end of act two in this one. This is better than I expected it would be.
Film: Sky High (2005)
I’m old enough to remember when Kurt Russell was Disney’s go-to live-action star. It’s nice to see him back working for Disney in this pre-MCU superhero/coming of age movie, albeit not as the star. It’s hard not to make an immediate comparison to the Harry Potter movies. After all, this is a movie that is literally about super-powered kids in high school. It’s extremely predictable, but that’s okay. It’s a fun film with some great casting—casting Lynda Carter as the principal of the super high school is genius. This won’t be anyone’s favorite movie, but it’s hard to find someone who would seriously object to it.
Film: The Pale Blue Eye (2022)
There is a weird fascination with incorporating famous people in period dramas, making them “normal” people, and I’m not entirely sure why this is. There are multiple movies where Edgar Allen Poe is a character, most recently The Pale Blue Eye, where we have Poe (Harry Melling) as a cadet at West Point during the investigation of a suicide that proves instead to be a murder. Poe assists local detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale), who attempts to discern not just who the murderer is, but why a rash of grisly murders are now stalking the grounds of the school. The romantic idea of Poe is a dandy idea, but the execution leaves a great deal to be desired. There’s a lot of untapped potential here.
Of these I've only seen The Doors. I'm somewhat of a fan of the band, I think I own their greatest hits and I don't turn them off if they come on the radio but I'm not rabid. I did read a Jim Morrison's bio and based on that he seemed to be a relatively talented but thoroughly screwed up self involved and selfish hedonist whose end was completely unsurprising. The movie was more of the same though Kilmer did a good job. Meg Ryan however was out of her element.ReplyDelete
Don't know why I never got around to Sky High, it looks like goofy fun. Perhaps I'll get to it someday.
The fashion of having real people reimagined as sleuths seems to have started in print, I know both Jane Austen and Abigail Adams have mystery series where they are the lead detective, and now seems to be spilling over onto film. Don't quite get the need but I would guess it's the convenience of name recognition doing some of the writer's work for them.
Your opinion of The Doors mirrors mine. The songs that I know are good in general and I won't flip off them on the radio if they come on, but I also don't really seek them out. Kilmer is probably the best part of the movie, and Meg Ryan, as you say, doesn't fit.Delete
Sky High is harmless candy. It's fun, but hardly essential. You're safe to avoid The Pale Blue Eye. It's not bad; it's just not memorable. However, The Way Back is worth your time.
The Way Back (2020) is decent, and makes a good triple feature with The Way Back (2010) and The Way Way Back (2013).ReplyDelete
I recently posted on Facebbook that I didn't understand the trilogy of The Way, The Way Back, and The Way Way Back, so I think our two minds think as one in some respects.Delete
I fucking hate The Doors. That is one of the worst films I had ever seen as it solidified everything Lester Bangs said in Almost Famous about Morrison. I read Ray Manzarek's book on the band and he and the band hated what Oliver Stone did. It portrayed Morrison as a buffoon and it was filled with a lot of inaccuracies and dramatic liberties that really pissed me off as I love their music.ReplyDelete
I do like Sky High except for the fact that its soundtrack features a lot of cover songs from the 80s. Why? The 80s wasn't a great decade with high school films. In fact, a lot of high school films were shit.
If memory serves, Manzarek worked on the movie as a technical advisor and hated the results. That's Oliver Stone, though--the man has never done anything normally when he could have been bombastic instead.Delete
My guess on the '80s covers in Sky High is that a lot of the parents taking their kids to that movie were '80s kids. I certainly could have been--my older one would have been 7 when that came out, and I absolutely came of age in the 1980s.
I didn't care for the Pale Blue Eye either. By the time we solved the mystery I was just like....k?ReplyDelete
It had real potential and a nice cast...and that's all we got?Delete