Archive for Michael Cera

My blog saw something that night

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by dcairns

We very much enjoyed the first episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return. But what was it we were enjoying? I suspect we won’t know until the full eighteen episodes have aired, and maybe not even then.

What is Dr. Jakoby (Russ Tamblyn) going to do with all those shovels? And what answer to the question could possibly satisfy us?

I guess don’t read this if you haven’t imbibed the first four episodes and are concerned about spoilers.

This is certainly a sequel to Twin Peaks but, like FIRE WALK WITH ME, it doesn’t wholly inhabit the same genre/s. The soap opera aspects are largely absent, in favour of a kind of demented supernatural procedural, spread across various parts of the US and involving various familiar and unfamiliar characters.

So far, nothing much resembling a narrative has emerged in the town of Twin Peaks itself, except for Deputy Sheriff Hawk (Michael Horse) vaguely investigating clues suggested by the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson, one of a number of players who has sadly passed on after filming their scenes). Mostly, the TP scenes introduce familiar characters and let us see what’s going on in their lives 25 years later: Ben and Jerry Horne, James the soulful biker, Shelly the waitress, bad boy Bobby Briggs. These scenes don’t seem to be going anywhere, really, but maybe they are, just very very slowly. They do kind of resembled the MISSING PIECES from FIRE WALK WITH ME, some of which are enjoyable as cameos, but which rightly hit the cutting room floor since they didn’t advance the (disturbing, ambiguous) narrative.

But, while I want those characters to actually get properly involved in the story, at the moment what has me hooked is the adventures of the two Agent Dale Coopers, one a long-haired, permatanned outlaw, possessed by the spirit BOB (it seems), the other a total amnesiac wandering Las Vegas, unable to figure out his purpose in life or even how to go to the bathroom. This gives Kyle McLachlan plenty to do, which is great news.

But my favourite performances so far are Matthew Lillard, playing a Leland Palmerish type — respectable citizen with secret criminal life — who is just electrifying, even while looking strangely like Earthworm Jim in knitwear, and Michael Cera in a throwaway cameo… I guess stop reading if you haven’t viewed episode four, I think it was…

Cera plays Wally Brando, son of beloved regulars Andy and Lucy, who was just a twinkle in the eye back in season 2. He’s envisaged as the lovechild of Wally Cox and Marlon Brando, specifically in THE WILD ONE, and Cera delivers a spectacularly mean takedown of Brando’s more windy improvisatory moments from his late work. That combination of wistful musing on the surface, fatuous pontification by way of content, and an undercurrent of desperate what-the-fuck-am-I-going-to-say-next panic. With a convincing copy of Brando’s whistling lisp. We found it rather fine.

A friend said he found Harrison Ford’s appearance in the trailer for THE FORCE AWAKENS kind of dispiriting — “Just a reminder of your own mortality.” I guess because we’d been seeing Ford grow old and that was OK, but our memories of Han Solo were still young. Many of the cast of TP are still firmly associated with their roles in the show and little else — plus three of them have died since filming this. So there’s a certain amount of non-diegetic sadness floating around this show. I’d have been happy if they’d deleted a line of dialogue about Miguel Ferrer looking unwell. If Ferrer tried to act malaise, it didn’t come across, because the poor man looks unwell all the time here. But it’s still good to see him as Albert. Some kind of guardian angel allowed Lynch to make this just before the world lost Albert and Dr. Hayward and the Log Lady.

Evil Xs

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by dcairns

Not much to add to the gleeful hubbub surrounding Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. A rare film which takes faithfulness to its source as a call to have fun rather than stifle invention, it’s also one of the few movies that really works for me in terms of juggling sort-of-real characters with personalities and issues, and awesome fight scenes where people get exploded. There’s no sense of a mismatch at all, you don’t worry about the death side of things, you just accept that the mild mayhem is some kind of metaphor, and nobody really gets hurt within the world of this film.

Taking his cue from the graphic novel/s, Wright plays games, literally, with cinema, cheerfully eating up anime and comic book and video game techniques. It makes me curious to see what he’d do with 3D, since his showcasing of technique for the sheer hell of it makes self-consciousness a virtue. Also, it’s very funny.

Wright has always had a lovely sense of comic timing, and his hyperkinetic style actually works hand-in-hand with that. The sharp cut following Michael Cera’s reaction to the line “Bread makes you fat,” — a single, horrified, “What?” — is made retroactively funnier by the abruption of the edit following fast on the heels of the line. In a split second, your brain is reprogrammed to upgrade the line from amusing to hilarious.

Cera is of course delightful, but so is everyone. My new conversational opener for after a film viewing with a friend is “Who was your favourite?” and it works very well with this movie [Maybe wouldn’t be so helpful with something like SECRET HONOR] I asked Fiona, “Who was your favourite?” “What?” “Who was your favourite?” “Oh. Girl drummer.” An instinctive reaction to a good bob. And then, “And gay guy.” My favourite is Ellen Wong as Knives Chao, because everything she does is cute and funny. But it’s a tough call, because there’s a whole trench-full of cute funniness in the flick.

As one who’s gone on the record with a deep, almost sexual admiration for Cera, I felt uncertain about his darker hair coloring here, and Wright does a lot of profile and three-quarter views of his star, which makes him less beautiful, less a Starman and more a 21st Century Sterling Holloway. But that ain’t bad.

Is Scott sitting on a swing in the snow a reference to Kurosawa’s IKIRU? It seems like it might be. Or it might be a reference to Bruce MacDonald’s THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, which likewise has teenage issues, split screen and Canada as sub-topics. Two references that seem fairly certain are the use of the hypnosis sting from Mike Hodges’ FLASH GORDON, and the appearance by the Monster from the Id from FORBIDDEN PLANET. What’s he been doing with himself in the last fifty years, anyhow?

He’s certainly kept in trim.

Things I ate during SUPERBAD

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2008 by dcairns

Plate of spaghetti bolognese with cheese.

SUPERBAD is another Judd Apatow-produced slob comedy type thing (it’s directed by Greg Mottola, script by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg), but if you think about it, this stuff is pretty smart and progressive compared to slob-coms of earlier decades. I mean, I would rather gouge my own nipples out than watch NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE. This one struck me as actually very funny, most of the time.

Then I had a sort of lemon curd yoghurt thing for desert. The movie was still on at this point.

The Apatow school strikes a weird balance, trying to be sensitive and respectful to women while doing gross-out stuff and celebrating childish behaviour in men. They tend to show ugly men winning the hearts of really hot girls, which is implausible outside showbiz, but not in itself grounds for hating the films, I would say. Not that Michael Cera is ugly, in fact he’s rather beautiful. I would totally do him, and I would still feel completely heterosexual even as I penetrated him because he’s so inherently lovely.

After dessert I felt like a nice cup of tea, so I had one. Does that count? Tea?

But homosexuality is a big thing here, partly because these films are a little confused about it. There are never any actual homosexual characters in these more enlightened modern comedies, because it wouldn’t be cool to laugh at gays (I guess there’s the cowboy newscaster in ANCHORMAN: THE RON BURGUNDY STORY, but that seems to be OK because he’s deeply closeted and self-deception IS inherently funny), but characters can humorously abuse each other for acting “gay”. THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN has extended banter about “You know how I know you’re gay?” between two straight buddies, and while I found it funny I also worried if, you know, I should. In fact, if you start to worry about this, it does mostly stop being funny.

It’s kind of like Old Hollywood and black people. While some comedies portrayed blacks as shiftless imbeciles, or at least poked fun at lack of education, filmmakers more sensitive to racial issues responded by not featuring any black characters in their films at all. “They have suffered too much ever to be funny to me,” said Chaplin. But even though these guys meant well, ethnically cleansing American cinema is actually WORSE than patronising and insulting the black populace.

(Comparing black people to gay people is now the only acceptable way to offend black people.)

So now we have slightly cautious dirty comedies that can kind of denigrate the concept of same-sex sex, without ever actually showing it in existence. And it’s SORT OF acceptable, because we all know that people don’t always talk and behave in a P.C. way, right? And it does feel like discourse is continuing to progress, even with the Republicans in power — an actor making a homophobic remark can get in trouble for it, which, when you think about it, is incredible progress.

And then I had some nice poppy seed bread, just because it was there. I mean, I wasn’t actually hungry or anything.

There’s a point when the two heroes of SUPERBAD have a sleepover and admit they love one another, and then the next morning they’re embarrassed. I kind of wanted them to actually DO IT, or kiss or something, something they could at least be properly embarrassed about. That would actually be a major step in mainstream comedy. And it’s not actually as if I want to see Jonah Hill copulating with ANYONE.

Even Michael Cera.