Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Posted by · 8:34 pm · November 13th, 2009

2012I’m in San Francisco through the weekend and, having missed the week’s “2012” press screenings, I headed on over to the Van Ness AMC to settle in for Roland Emmerich’s two and a half hours of global destruction, and as overwrought, cheesy, painstakingly contrived (“Where’s the map!?”) and downright BAD as the film is — and it is all of those things — I ate it up.

Mainly, I salute Emmerich’s gargantuan, platinum cojones for giving us the exact…same…escape sequence not once, not twice, but THREE times.  And make it four if we want to go ahead and trace the roots of the by now standardized moment back to “Independence Day.” I kept waiting on someone to open a laptop with a countdown clock.  Oh wait, they’ve got one on the ark — we’re good.

Staggering.  Every unconscionable drop of it.  And you know what?  Good.  I want this movie in the marketplace right now.  Sure, it’s a bastardized piece of “drama,” but squeezing damn near every 2012 theory into the mix, cranking the production up to 11 from frame one and STILL Tom McCarthy is able to keep a straight face?  This is high art on some level.  Has to be.

I said in this morning’s podcast that Emmerich has a touch of nostalgia to him for me, and it’s absolutely true.  It felt like 1997 in that theater today.  Adam Lambert’s closing track drove that home even further.  But the sheer popcorn buzz of the thing, that rare, disgusting, valiant combination of idiocy and daring that is a film from the cinema’s apocalyptic auteur…it’s a hell of a respite.  I mean that.

You’re welcome here any time, Roland.

→ 13 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

13 responses so far

  • 1 11-13-2009 at 10:33 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune agrees with you:

    ‘Objectively considered, it is pretty dire, both in its narrative speculations (owing to the Mayan calendar foretelling a dicey near-future for us all) and in its merry defiance of every reasonable standard of storytelling quality. But film, like film criticism, concerns more than mere objective truths. “2012,” which samples everything from “Earthquake” to “The Perfect Storm” to “The Towering Inferno” to the Bible, will appeal to the baser instincts in anyone who lapped up Emmerich’s schlocktastic “10,000 B.C.” Which makes one of us, at least.’

  • 2 11-14-2009 at 12:12 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Sure it’s supposed to be bad, but Emmerich somehow has much more gravitas and control than Michael Bay. No overly shaky cam and needless titties. Just big total destruction of the world. It’s really the first of such brainless blockbusters in ages that really worked for me.
    Also, the supposed tv show actually has potential. If you concider the movie to be the biggest and most expensive pilot ever.
    Oh and McHattie for lead please!

  • 3 11-14-2009 at 8:18 am

    Joel said...

    Personally, I don’t get anything Emmerich does outside of his disaster movies, except maybe “The Patriot” and that’s borderline. “Stargate,” “Godzilla,” and “10,000 B.C.” are all awful. “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” are two disaster movie classics (I said it), and I can’t wait to see “2012.” Glad to hear you liked it.

    Dustin Putman aka “The Movie Boy” has never liked Emmerich, but he dug “2012” and said:

    “[Roland Emmerich’s] never met a city he didn’t want to cinematically destroy, but he also has never made a film that was anything above mediocre. That is, until now. Positioned as the disaster pic to end all disaster pics, “2012” doesn’t just revolve around one singular cataclysm, but about all of them combined. This is no less than the end of the world Emmerich is dealing with, and he tosses into the pot so much delirious spectacle that, yes, there are even kitchen sinks in sight.”

    This excites me.

  • 4 11-14-2009 at 8:40 am

    Chris138 said...

    “The Patriot” is the only Emmerich movie I’ve liked, and that seems to be the only one where it isn’t full of CGI and destroying the world.

    I’m sort of curious to see this movie, though. Doesn’t look good, but could be a fun time regardless.

  • 5 11-14-2009 at 9:16 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Stargate was pretty awesome in its concept as well. The action-filled 3rd act was a bit too much though.

  • 6 11-14-2009 at 10:49 am

    Maxim said...

    Apocalyptic auteur? Meh. Emmerich has very few tricks up his sleeve and will never top the more spectacular sequences in “War of the Worlds” or even “Twister”. He overcompensates with “scale” for the lack of “scope”. Compare the effect of a film like “Children of Men” with “Day After Tomorrow” and honestly tell me which one had you more on the edge of your seat at fraction of the budget.

    I hated “Independence Day”. I don’t want any more from Emmerich so I will be avoding this.

    Honestly, the only time I sort of enjoyed on of his flicks was in the yearly 90s when I caugh “Universal Soldier” on TV. And even then I think I cared about the casting more than I did about the plot.

  • 7 11-14-2009 at 12:46 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    ID4 is to me THE film that truly impressed me the first time around. I was 11 or 12 years old and saw it in the biggest cinema I’d ever been at. And yes, I still love that film.

  • 8 11-14-2009 at 1:35 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    “The Patriot” is garbage. So is “Independence Day”.

  • 9 11-14-2009 at 2:08 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    “It felt like 1997 in that theater today. ”

    First wet dream?

  • 10 11-14-2009 at 2:36 pm

    Joel said...

    Maxim: The comparison isn’t worth it. Sorry. Emmerich ain’t in the same boat as Cuaron. Just because something is mindless doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

  • 11 11-14-2009 at 2:44 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    am I the only one who thinks the Patriot is actually quite a good film

  • 12 11-14-2009 at 4:57 pm

    JJ (formerly John) said...

    I love ‘The Patriot’.

    Gibson, Isaacs, Ledger, Richardson, cool story, the editing, cinematography, art direction, costumes, make-up, sound design, special fx, score … the only thing it lacked was some subtlety. But yeah, I’ve always loved it.

  • 13 11-14-2009 at 4:59 pm

    Joel said...

    I liked “The Patriot” as well, AmericanRequiem.