invasion of the paramount: day nine

day nine is a science fiction extravaganza courtesy of ian pirie, paramount ticket systems administrator. ian, i just want to say i hope you know this is nothing personal, but you have picked two of my least favorite movies of all time. finally, the jackals out there may get the bloodletting they so look forward to during queue weeks. first out of the gate we have the wall-to-wall blood, explosions and nubs of paul verhoeven's starship troopers (1997).

it is verhoeven's adaptation of a robert a. heinlein's 1959 novel of the same name and takes place in a future where humans are at war with a species of humungous arachnids known as "the bugs". a group of high school friends enlist in the military just after graduation and go their separate ways, promoting fascism and militarism across the galaxy in the name of the federation. they engage in a series of escalating battles with an ever-expanding menagerie of arachnoid types until a final showdown in which the handsome hero saves the high school sweetheart from having her brain sucked out and the head bug is captured and abjectly paraded before thousands of hoorah-ing meatheads, preserving and promoting the federation (read: american) way of life. i get what verhoeven was trying to do here, trust me. i just don't think he does it particularly well. this satire of the fascist/militaristic mindset is executed with about as much grace and skill as an episode of beverly hills, 90210. when your firebomb-laden social commentary could just as easily double as a recruitment film for the, let's just say, more impressionable cannon fodder in the audience (and that is a huge section of this film's fanbase), then you may have gone a little too broad with it. in its favor, it follows the star trek/roddenberry model of a future that is culturally and ethnically diverse and has a fair balance of gender equality. not in its favor is just about everything else. it's ham-handed, is badly acted and looks television-cheap. let's not kid ourselves, though. we know why people watch this:

the gore is legendary. the landscape is strewn with body parts like they are confetti and balloons and this is a flaming lips show. people come for the blood. blood is compulsory. that, and the shower scene. i have heard all the arguments - verhoeven anticipated the global climate of 9/11, he made the most subversive anti-propaganda propaganda film of all time, blah, blah, blah. nope, don't buy it. if you haven't seen many movies, maybe. what he did was set out to mock the superficial and banal and made something...superficial and banal, about as nuanced and subtle as his opposite number, the knee-jerk jingoists who completely misunderstand it. for an added treat, check out the commentary track for two hours of verhoeven feverishly explaining the obvious ("war is bad") and screenwriter edward neumeier inadvertently exposing how much he obviously hates women. repeatedly. starship troopers? i say kill 'em all.

next, it's out of the frying pan into the fire with luc besson's the fifth element (1997).

or, as i like to call it, bruce willis cashes a check for 126 minutes. oh my god, i hate this movie. there is no filmmaker alive that i would less rather spend time picking their brain than luc besson. our sensibilities? never the twain shall meet, i'm afraid. there are about ten seconds in his entire filmography that i actually enjoy:

  and i actually attribute that more to gary oldman.

i had the fifth element in the queue once before. here's how that went. i always rewatch them, though, whenever they are assigned, if for no other reason than to see how the other films in the queue re-contextualize them and to see what new comes of it. well, one thing springs immediately to mind this time around: 1997 was apparently the worst year for science fiction cinema in the history of mankind. or colekind, anyway. cube (1997) and gattaca (1997) second my emotion. excess was in fashion and depth was in short supply. just not my thing. so it goes.

it's not all rough seas today, though. the cinematic gods have smiled on us (austinites, anyway) and the paramount has announced its summer classic film series schedule! the schedule is incredible and there are numerous special events throughout the summer to add to your moviegoing experience. i highly recommend joining the paramount's film fan club if you regularly attend the summer series. the various membership levels have all sorts of perks and they pay for themselves in no time. paramount programmer jesse trussell has really outdone himself this year. i am sure there will be a post coming soon where i ramble on at length about all the things i am looking forward to this summer.

for now, though, i will close. once again, ian, sorry about that. next time i come in you can throw popcorn at me while the movie is playing.

tomorrow we come to the end of our grand and glorious experiment, one last day to get our groove on.

come back and see us or i will personally gong you.

No comments:

Post a Comment