Welcome to Friday. Here are some movie selections for your viewing pleasure.
Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, and Natalie Portman. Thor, the God of Thunder, gets sent to Earth by his father (Hopkins) where he befriends Natalie Portman, who helps him complete some kind of mission to get back to Heaven. In the process there are lots of expensive computer animated special effects. The gay media are already gaga over new star Chris Hemsworth’s insane physique for this role. I mean–have you even seen his biceps? However, does it bother me that here’s another action flick where the hero looks like an NFL linebacker and the villain looks like Johnny Weir? You betcha. I call this the gay villain problem, which was noticed last year with Tron Legacy. Every time we have a mincing prancing faerie villain, it gives more excuse for high school kids to say “that’s so gay, not as in gay people, but as in stupid.” With air tight logic like that, how can you even argue with them?
The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster, starring Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. I don’t know what’s more disturbing the premise of this movie or the PR machine that worked in quadruple-time to rehabilitate Mel’s image before the film release. There’s only so many times you can shout anti-semitic slurs at female police officers, before people start to notice. In the film Gibson plays a middle class father struggling with profound depression. A beaver puppet allows him to disassociate his mental illness from his healthy psyche. The question remains does Jodie Foster have the directing chops to steer that premise into an interesting dark comedy? If not, it just sounds like quirky for the sake of being quirky. Now please read Lindy West’s fabulous review in this week’s Stranger.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, directed by Werner Herzog. In this documentary, Werner Herzog takes the camera (and his crazy narration) deep into the caves at Chauvet, in Southern France for an exploration of 30,000 year old cave paintings, the oldest known pictures ever drawn. Combining on location footage, interviews with archeologists, artists and philosophers, the film asks who were these people—our ancient ancestors. How did they live? Why did they create art? But also what does it mean to be a human being? This will probably be considered the most philosophical 3D film ever created, well at least since Jaws 3.
Come Back Africa (1960), directed by Lionel Rogosin. The second film of Northwest Film Forum’s series Fact Maverick: Three Films from Lionel Rogosin. This documentary was filmed on the streets of Johannesburg, and chronicles the daily life of Africans living under brutal Apartheid. The film is also the debut performance of amazing South African singer Miriam Makeba.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall. Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, a hapless truck driver, who winds up on a mission to rescue his best friend’s fiancé from mythical Chinese spirits, who live underneath San Francisco’s China Town. By today’s standards the film comes across completely insensitive to Asian culture, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t kick ass. Additional plusses are seeing Kim Cattrall in full geisha make-up (see what I said about cultural insensitivity) and Kurt Russell rocking a tank top like no bodies business. (Central Cinema)
Cool As Ice (1991) directed by David Kellogg, starring Vanilla Ice, Kristin Minter, and Naomi Campbell. In early 90s the world was smitten by the charms of one Robert (don’t call me Rip) Van Winkle, AKA Mr. Vanilla Ice. Even Madonna thought he was a hot piece, but she really should have known better. Nowadays he’s a washed-up, bitter, BMX biking aficionado living somewhere in Central Florida. Central Cinema invites you to step back to those simple days, before all the break-downs, re-hab stints and reality television humiliations, as they present the classic Cool As Ice in “glorious” Hecklevision. Utilizing new-fangled technology your text messages will appear on screen. Last time there were prizes for the funniest commenter. Bring your A-Game snark on Monday, and maybe the winner could be you.
Pieces (1982) directed by Juan Piquer Simón (Slugs: the Movie). This installment of the Favorites Series is hosted by DJ Freddy King of Pants, who gets to choose any favorite film to screen for one night. In this film a psychopath armed with a chainsaw terrorizes a college campus, slashing and maiming in order to create his masterpiece—a human jigsaw puzzle. I love psychopaths who do it for art! (Central Cinema, Wednesday)
Finally, there’s a little film festival called SIFF that you might have heard about. The full schedule can be found here.
Ryan Hicks is Development Manager for Three Dollar Bill Cinema, presenting Translations: the Seattle Transgender Film Festival next week (May 12-15). He is also a film fan and contributor to Seattle Gay Scene.