Despite my last rant about the "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere at most movie theaters, the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I actually ventured into that world this weekend -- twice! -- and lived to tell the tale.
On Friday night, we braved an opening night showing of Thank You for Smoking. They had me from the opening credits, a nice stylized representation of the actors' names on classic cigarette packaging with the Tex Ritter classic "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke That Cigarette!" as the opening theme. I never read the Christopher Buckley book, but the movie has a light, irreverent feel, and the performances are all brilliant. Aaron Eckhart is perfect in the leading role, and the bit parts played by J.K. Simmons, Maria Bello, David Koetchner and William H. Macy are just as good.
I'm sure the Korner Kids will take this as a South Park conservative swipe at the P.C. Police -- Macy's character is pretty much a caricature, to be sure -- but in the end I thought it exposed the soullessness of the corporate shills just as well. Big Tobacco and the other giants come off looking bad, bad, bad here.
On Sunday, meanwhile, we finally got around to seeing V for Vendetta. I really liked the Alan Moore graphic novel and even though he distanced himself from the film (as always), I've been looking forward to it for a long while. I had a few quibbles -- the exposition might have been clearer, the fascist state was perhaps too crudely drawn, and they never really found a way to make the masked antihero come alive. But those are minor points. The acting was fairly solid, with even Natalie Portman putting in a nice performance, coupled with good showings by Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry and Not-Stephen Hugo Weaving. The filmmakers succeeded, I think, in creating a nice blend of action thriller and political jeremiad. Worth the price of admission, for sure, and maybe, just maybe, it'll get some fourteen year old kid thinking about politics in more critical terms. Maybe.
Anyone else brave the JuJuBee Jungle lately? Drop your thoughts on these flicks or any others in the comments below.