I've been having a hard time watching movies lately. And that's not good. Most people enjoy films on some kind of light, escapist level. For me, those dusk-to-dawn insomniac one-man movie festivals I show myself in my 20th floor apartment are nirvana, transport to a higher and safer plane. You think less about swan diving onto the roof of the parked Volga when Tom pours the warm whiskey over the crackling ice cubes in that perfect opening scene to Miller's Crossing.
But my problem is this. I'm noticing too much a certain flaw built into all movies, a flaw that smashes the seamless barrier between viewer and film. See, the characters in movies always look just to the left or to the right of you, or somewhat down or somewhat askance. But never AT you. And this is ruining my concentration. Have you noticed that? No, I mean REALLY noticed it? Not just noticed, but have you THOUGHT ABOUT IT EVERY TIME YOU WATCH A FILM? EVERY GODDAMN SECOND OF EVERY FILM?
I have. Sure, we all know it's there, but for me, it's the ONLY thing I see now. I notice it all the time lately, every goddamn movie I put on, I sit there and watch how none of the actors look AT me, but rather, to the SIDE of me. What, do I stink like shit? Are Hollywood actors prejudiced against black-asses? LOOK AT ME GODDAMNIT! To invert Dennis Hopper: "Look at me goddamnit! LOOK AT ME!"
So it doesn't bother you, this movie tick, this pin that pricks the imagination's bubble. Maybe you knew it, studied it some time ago, dismissed it, learned the reason for it in a film theory class, or you read something about "le voyeur" from some French critic. But that doesn't help me. Sure, I know the reason WHY they're not looking at me, but still... THEY'RE NOT LOOKING AT ME.
Now movies are no better than watching a play. I could never stand theater. I just couldn't learn how to pretend that I wasn't watching a bunch of artfags in all their thespian flawdom. I can hear coughing, I can hear their shoes scrape on the stage floor.
So now, for me, movies are little more than two-dimensional plays, flawed by the actors' always looking just over my shoulder, as if I didn't exist.
Which brings me to my review of Bad Company, which comes to the Dome Theater June 29th.
I was all set to hate this film. It's brought to us by the Twin Towers of shite blockbuster cinema, producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor) and director Joel Schumacher (Batman Arises). It was because of Bruckheimer's Pearl Harbor that I turned Jap last May and called for the public whipping of each surviving veteran of Pearl Harbor for having shamed my beloved nation first in 1941, and again in 2001 with the release of the dirty nuke of all war movies, Pearl Harbor.
Bad Company stars Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, which, I assumed, meant that Hopkins had grown tired of playing wimpy thespian roles and had decided to give the Anaconda Choice another go, while Chris Rock, well hell, dat nigga'd take anything.
In order to scoop our worthy competitors at The Moscow Times and that condom-named paper with the revolving slut on its cover, I picked up a rank pirate copy of Bad Company in the perekhod at Smolensky metro. An uzkoglazie devushka there told me that the kachestvo is "sredny," which is a euphemism for "handicammed by some Mud Person in a New Jersey theater and contrabanded to some thugs in Moscow." Fine with me -- "the worse, the better," as Lenin said.
As it turns out, Bad Company isn't that bad. Rock plays a Wiscrackin' Over-His-Head Negro opposite a Straight Non-Negro Gov-type caught up in A Big Crime Plot, a formula that worked well for Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop as well as Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2. A formula, you'll see, that sharp-witted critics derided as "formulaic."