Supposedly I'm taking some time off, while I wait for Vince to finish his illustration for "The Cats of River Street (1925)." But I'm so sick from the withdrawal, it's not much of a vacation. I do need to do some proofreading for subpress today, and Amber Benson sent me a manuscript she asked me to look at. I should be choosing artists for Centipede Press' Houses Under the Sea, and I need to select the sixteen pages of illustrations for the limited edition of Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea (expect Vice Locke, Steve Leiber, Rick Kirk). Though, we do not do these things on "vacation," do we?
I am seriously considering legally changing my name from Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan to simply Beast.
Yesterday, Kathryn and I decided to have a Big Damn Move Day. So, two matinées:
1) 12:05 p.m., Luc Besson's Lucy (2014) ~ Now, my love of everything Luc Besson is well known. I'd watch him mow grass, so do I love Monsieur Besson. And Lucy is very likely my favorite Besson film since The Fifth Element (1997), though other strong contenders include Angel A (2005) and Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010). In fact, in some ways, Lucy is a reworking of the central theme of The Fifth Element: The appearance of a woman who is a "supreme being." Scarlett Johansson is excellent in the title role, and I also enjoyed the performances of Min-sik Choi and Amr Waked. Johansson brings to her role an unexpectedly – for me at least – poignant portrayal of a woman whose humanity is being eroded as she becomes something entirely, unimaginably alien. She actually had me near tears twice. The effects are gorgeous, and we are propelled through time, from 2014 to that "time" prior to the Big Bang. The editing, as with The Fifth Element, is superb. And, as usual, Besson works with his tried-and-true collaborators, such as Eric Serra (soundtrack) and Thierry Arbogast (cinematography).
That said, the science is, well, not really science at all. The entire film is predicated on the "Ten percent of brain myth." This is, of course, complete twaddle. Also, Morgan Freeman's lectures are replete with errors that would have been eliminated by throwing a few bucks at a poor biology grad student. Or checking Wikipedia. For example, we're told at least a couple times that life appeared one billion years ago, when, in fact, the earliest evidence we currently have of life on Earth is 3.7 billion years old. That's a pretty damn big error. And there was a bunch of foolishness about dolphins. However! Truth is, these problems actually didn't detract from the film at all, in my opinion. I think you have to look at what's happening in Lucy as metaphor, and where it takes us in the end is very near to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I give Lucy high marks. It is by turns horrific, transcendent, sad, and beautiful. Screw you imdb, with your 6.6 rating.
2. 2:15 p.m., James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy ~ Now, I was utterly unfamiliar with the source material, but Gunn wrote two films I adore: the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and then Slither (2006). I expected a Marvel action film. I did not expect an utterly hilarious, delightful, and overwhelmingly charming action film. Truly, I haven't had this much fun at the movies since at least Pacific Rim. The cast is superb, from Chris Pratt to Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper to Karen Gillan (Amy Pond in Doctor Who). Indeed, Gillan was a truly unexpected gem as Nebula (and she actually shaved her head for the role!). She might even have stolen the show for me, if not for Cooper's portrayal of Rocket, the genetically altered, cybernetically enhanced raccoon. This movie was breathtakingly funny, and the visuals were, to say the least, stunning. The space battles, the splendid makeup, the fully realized environments. I could go on and on. Fans of Farscape will, I think, see a lot of John Crichton in Chris Pratt's bumbling, exasperated "Star Lord." With just a dash of Malcolm Reynolds. And that's only the tip of the cultural-reference iceberg. This is a smart, sassy, witty film, and it's utterly goddamn, over-the-top ridiculous. And sexy. It might wind up being my favorite film of the year. Oh! And the 1970s soundtrack, an inspired touch. In the end, losers and fuck-ups in space rock my world. Oh! And a cameo by my favorite comic book character ever!
So there, two actual movie reviews! I never write those.*
Now, I might go lie down and moan a while.
* I should add that paying $30 for two people for two matinées is appalling. But I remember paying $2.50 for actual nighttime shows when I was a teenager. That's a 500% increase over, let's say, thirty-two years.