It may surprise you to learn that Jeff Goldblum, star …
Seemingly late in the game of David Koepp’s Mortdecai, the eponymous character (played by Johnny Depp) asks his wife, “Are you quite finished with your barrage of insults?” It’s an apt question for the film itself, a cataclysmically unfunny, unbelievably tedious disaster of baffling misjudgments and multiple career lows that feels as long as Shoah, and only a little less harrowing. No such luck, though, as the film goes on for another 25 minutes. It then ends on people about to throw up. Also apt.
More than perhaps any other director, the work of Ernst Lubitsch has been the most noticeable influence on Wes Anderson’s style. Though the great German-American writer-director, most prolific in the 1930s and 1940s, was never quite so aesthetically bold in the look of his sets, he too was preoccupied with meticulous staging for comedy within his chosen locales, be they the titular Shop Around the Corner or the Parisian hotel of Ninotchka; The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in a fictional European country, the Republic of Zubrowka, another Lubitsch trait from works like The Merry Widow and The Love Parade, though The Shop Around the Corner happens to be set in the city Anderson’s mountaintop lodging house takes its name from. He garnered the descriptor of ‘the Lubitsch touch’ thanks to the moving sincerity that always made itself evident within even his more broad comedic premises, and Anderson’s own best work is that in which a recognisable humanism always makes itself known and potent even within the stylised stiltedness through which most of his characters are written and performed.
With Steven Spielberg’s landmark blockbuster Jurassic Park making a 3D-assisted comeback in theaters, Ricky, Josh and Simon take a look back in order to rank it among Spielberg’s crowd-pleasers and see how it stands the test of time, regardless of technological additives. After that, the floor is opened to a general discussion of the digital vs. film debate, sparked by the Keanu Reeves-produced and hosted doc Side by Side. (Special guest Gregory Ashman of CriticalMassCast joined us for the first chunk of the show, but had to be dropped due to a Skype issue.)
Jurassic Park, like many of Spielberg’s best films, allows us to be children again, even if this is, ironically, a film most kids would be scared to death by. It’s a movie that indulges in horror-movie tropes while making them feel fresh, layering a patina of intelligence over the intense, earth-rattling action. Though the human-dinosaur face-offs are the stuff of movie legend, the early sections where Drs. Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, and Ellie Sattler debate the ethics of a theme park full of the living, breathing extinct are strangely fascinating and entertaining, at least to 28-year old me.