Mission: Impossible, Jack Parow, Foo Fighters, Scream 4.
So, today, I watched Mission: Impossible for the first time in a long time. Since I was about nine years old, actually, and I was surprised by how not-complex the plot was. I wasn’t watching it to review it; I mostly had it on in the background while I trolled the net for a torrent of Eksie Ou, the new Jack Parow album. Which is fantastic, by the way. Gotta get a credit card so I can have copies of his albums shipped to me. Really, this is another one of those days in the life of an amateur critic (read: person with opinions on the internet) where nothing really major happens in their artistic diet. I’ve seen Mission: Impossible before, and I’m pretty sure having memorized the plot through repeated viewings at the age of nine really made it hard to evaluate as though it was the first time seeing it.
Though, I will say this: Brian de Palma loves diopter lenses, but he especially loves his diopter lenses for dutch angles. Starting about ten minutes into this movie, nearly every shot of some intense stuff going down is at a degree sharper than 45 off kilter with something in sharp focus in the background and sharp focus in the foreground. I swear to god, it’s like the arrow in the FedEx logo–once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it for the rest of the movie. All I could think was “jeez, Brian–maybe you don’t need that one guy in the background in focus while these two pairs of lips are hogging the frame to the right. Maybe they could all get a turn on screen in their own shots.”
Other than that, it was a tight, surprisingly grim/gritty/dark/edgy spy thriller. With the direction the franchise took in the latest two installments toward spy-movie fluff, it’s easy to forget these movies started out by killing everyone on screen after revealing the only original cast member left from the TV series to have sold out the entire nation. It’s a weird case of anti-Batman syndrome, where these movies have only gained artistic credence the lighter and fluffier they got.
As evidence, I present the main criticism of the first movie from the creators of the series: it betrayed the show’s teamwork based format for a movie all about how one person is the best spy ever. And the latest movie ends with that same one person congratulating the three people who have just helped him survive the mission for the excellent teamwork and communication. It may have taken 15 years, but Tom Cruise did hear that feedback and adjusted the series accordingly. The TV series was supposed to be about teamwork, and now, one and a half decades later, the movies are too.
At least until Ghost Protocol II: Rise of Laboeuf comes out wherein Jeremy Renner takes over as the protagonist because Ethan Hunt is selling the non-official cover list to an anonymous European arms dealer on bible usenet groups. The number of people who get that joke is also the number of people who read my blog who are over thirty or who have also recently watched the first Mission: Impossible.
I was also thinking today about the rise of disco, but I’m gonna try to develop that as its own article. I watched the Foo Fighters documentary, and despite not liking the band or their music that much, I found it an informative and candid look into the black hole of conflict and broken personalities left in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I know it’s unfair to trace all of Dave Grohl’s fame back to that tragic circumstance, even superficially, so forgive me for that. But it’s interesting to see how the members of the Foo Fighters dealt with communication issues and trust issues and conflict in the wake of something so scarring.
You can see Dave Grohl’s pain at the idea that anyone would dislike him and that thus, he would lose a friend. Every time he talks about how the Foos lost a band member or he went on tour with Queens of the Stone Age, you can see how badly he wants to make everybody happy and keep everybody around. It was the same talking about Taylor Hawkins’ OD in London. He wants to make sure nobody hurts and that everybody stays with him. And sure enough, by the end of recording their latest album, he’s got Pat Smear back in the band, Krist Novoselic in the studio with him, Butch Vig at the boards–the only person not there is Will Goldsmith, but I’d like to think they can mend fences somehow.
After all, he did consent to appear in the movie.
But yeah, that’s all I’ve been up to today. It’s not what I wanted to be doing (either Portal 2 single-player or co-op) and it’s not what I planned on doing (purchasing Arkham Asylum and testing it out) and it’s not what my friends would want me to be doing (Dave would want me playing Valkyria Chronicles for instance).
One last note before I go: a few months back, I wrote an article about why I came back after such a long time. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine still today why I came back–I have so little to say and so much pressure from myself to say it. But the guy who said he really liked my stuff, the guy who I hadn’t spoken to in over a year, whose only exposure to my opinions was his reading this blog–The part that really made me come back was when he said “I really liked your review of Scream 4.”
In my review of Scream 4, I spoil the entire movie in the article image. And I then go on to talk about one scene, really one monologue from near the end that struck me as the most pathos-laden cry for help I’ve heard from a genre of cinema. That‘s what connected with him. It was something specific that I had written that wasn’t a good movie review on its own merits that wasn’t even a review of a good movie. And that’s what spoke to him the most.
That’s why I came back.