Original-Cin welcomes back guest columnists Mark Breslin and Thom Ernst - respectively the founder of Yuk Yuk’s comedy chain and the former host of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies – and their occasional contrarian feature called You’re All Wrong!
MARK BRESLIN: Thom, Happy Chinese New Year! I’d like you to know there is something wrong with me. I may be the only person alive who thinks Roma is a boring, beautifully shot home movie. Was David Alan Balto right when he accused me when I was seventeen of being an “insensitive party goer?” And why do I think Escape Room is a better film? Let me explain:
-Roma has no trick ending.
-Roma doesn’t have a scene that’s upside down
-Roma doesn’t have a scene that reminds me of my friendship with Dr. Timothy Leary
- Roma doesn’t kill off its characters one by one in gruesome ways.
- Roma’s lead actress would look terrible in a catsuit.
Well, Thom, tell me. Am I beyond hope?
THOM ERNST: Gung hay fat choy, Mark. I am taken aback by this sudden, unexpected bolt of self-reflection.
I feel a page has turned in our co-writing partnership allowing for a new chapter to begin. And the chapter starts with the sentence, “No, you are not beyond hope.”
I like Roma. I fully expect it to win this year’s Best Picture. But, not liking Roma is—in principle—okay too. It’s okay, because maybe it’s not your fault. Not Roma’s fault either.
I fear, Mark, that you might be suffering from an undiagnosed case of slow-paced film deficiency. It’s a common affliction among movie-goers and if left untreated it can cause a severe rash of super-hero flicks and a recurring bout of unwanted sequels.
But there are positive side-effects too…like heightened appreciation for horror films.
I have yet to see Escape Room. Really? Trick-ending, upside down rooms, gruesome deaths, Timothy Leary and a cat-suit? I’m in.
MB:And then there’s Bohemian Rhapsody, one of the least bohemian films ever made. I can’t believe it won best drama at the Golden Globes AND IS UP FOR A BEST PICTURE OSCAR! It took all the decadence and sleaze of rock n roll and left it on the cutting room floor. Don’t talk about the orgy, man, show it!!!!
And Rami Malek as best actor? Sweatiest actor, maybe, but he deserves nothing more than Most Method Moustache at best. I’d say the critics are wrong, but it’s the Golden Globes and the Oscars, so no critics were actually involved.
TE: I think the theme song for Bohemian Rhapsody should be, “We Will, We Will Rook You!”
Take an icon who became a legend and reinvent him as a character in his own (posthumous) Saturday Morning Cartoon. I’m surprised the movie ends at Live Aid, and not with the band becoming cartoon super-sleuths.
I don’t even care that it fails as a bio pic. Make up anything you want about Mercury and the band’s life, just make sure that what you invent is more interesting than the real story.
The only revelation this film had for me is that there was ever any uncertainty that Freddie Mercury was gay.
I’ll say one thing for the film – its fans are saner than the fans of Aquaman. I’ve taken some hits for not liking Bohemian Rhapsody, but it’s nothing compared to ire I hear from the Aquaman fandom.
I rate Aquaman as coming in well below ‘C’ level despite Now Magazine’s top-critic Norm Wilner’s amiable plea that, “Aquaman works, you guys,” or The Gate’s, Andrew Parker’s asserting that Aquaman “effortlessly entertains”. I don’t know. Trying to enjoy Aquaman feels like swimming upstream. Judging by the Aqua-fans swarming by twitter-feed like I’m shark-chum, I’m definitely going against the current.
So Aquaman is doing well. Great. That still says nothing about the film’s quality or confirms its appeal. MacDonald’s is still the world’s number one food joint, but I doubt anyone can rank it as fine dining.
MB:I haven’t seen Aquaman, but it couldn’t be worse than Vox Lux. Critics are at least divided about this student film, but I can’t believe Mick Lasalle from the San Francisco Chronicle called it “a little masterpiece” and Manohla Dargis from the New York Times called it “deeply satisfying and ambitious.” Great. Two more cities I no longer want to visit.
TE: The only other movie disappointment for me this month is Stan and Ollie, the biographical account of the famous comedy duo on their final hurrah through the playhouses of the United Kingdom. I get that there is sentimental currency in a story about Laurel and Hardy that (thankfully) isn’t out to destroy the beloved image the world has of them, and I understand that the film stars two of cinema’s best actors, John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan offering impressing performances of two Hollywood icons.
I don’t disagree with Richard Crouse’s assessment that Coogan’s and Reilly have an “easy chemistry”. But for all the film’s merits, I couldn’t help but be distracted by my desire to watch the real Laurel and Hardy in the original Way Out West, regardless how impressive the recreation is.
MB:I’m not a fan of comedy duos, except for perhaps Leopold and Loeb, so I haven’t rushed to the film yet. But speaking of duos, I wonder who the first rep cinema will be to double bill Beautiful Boy and Ben Is Back. I may have to start using again!