Notes from the back row 

Forget the chick flick

So the Sex and the City movie opens Friday. My sassy, good-looking friend Hot Kel intends to use that as an excuse to dress up and drink cocktails with her sassy, good-looking girlfriends before hitting the Village 8. Generally a pack of well-dressed, half-greased women is something I can totally get behind but I’m going to just come out and say it – I don’t give a shit about the Sex and the City movie. I haven’t seen the show, I won’t see the movie, and I’m not going to review it either. I will tell you that it is two and a half hours long !!!! Even Gandalf and Frodo have a hard time keeping people interested for that long.

And before you start ragging on me for not even bothering to review a female-friendly movie, yesterday I watched Over Her Dead Body starring Eva Longoria — apparently she’s another of those ‘huge’ TV stars, but I don’t get it. This movie was less enjoyable than a colonoscopy, the highlight being the part where two idiots spend almost 30 seconds trying to lift a fat white dog onto an operating table. Paul Rudd couldn’t even save this crapfest, proving that yes, these are desperate times for good, intelligent female-driven movies. There hasn’t been much to get excited about since The Devil Wears Prada (not counting costume dramas which are aimed at females but still don’t really give them strong roles). Times are tough all around, however, and even the guy movies aren’t as good as they used to be. So lets just move on to something we can all get into – horror, drugs and Liv Tyler.

First the drugs – American Drug War: The Last White Hope is a somewhat depressing-yet-informative documentary examining America’s War on Drugs and the issues surrounding it. Filmmaker Kevin Booth provides an in-depth look at drugs and the privatized U.S. prison system (non-violent drug offenders are good business when you make more money for every ‘criminal’ you lock up). He makes some interesting points about drugs, the CIA and the Contras (when you need to pay for under-the-table military activities in Central America why not import/sell drugs to your own citizens? It’s like free money!) Booth also personally comments on the harmful effects of most drugs – illegal, legal, prescription or whatever. He hypothesizes that drugs are a medical and social problem rather than criminal and that, historically, prohibition doesn’t work. American Drug War is available on DVD but enterprising internet users can probably find the full 2-hour film online. Who knows? Maybe http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8368008313797284597&hl=en might have it.

Back in the theatres, horror and Liv Tyler fall into the same film with The Strangers, which also opens this Friday. Liv plays Kristen, who has just rejected her boyfriend’s marriage proposal as the two head out to his family’s fine country estate. Just before the make-up sex there is a loud noise and the couple is tormented by psychotic home invaders in creepy masks for the rest of the flick. It’s a premise we’ve seen countless times before but first time writer/director Brian Bertino uses silence and the unseen to generate real suspense, anxiety, and near-pant-crapping fear. Reminiscent of the old-school B-movies of the early ’80s, Bertino’s quieter, creepier style is a nice change to the current splatter-porn horrors of guys like Eli Roth ( Hostel) and the Saw franchise.

Scott Speedman ( Underworld) plays the not-so-capable boyfriend and Liv Tyler pouts, cries, screams and gasps her way through this cat-and-mouse creepfest like the true professional she is. The Strangers is the perfect film for people like me. Let the women dress up and geek out on fashion and chatter. We’ll be wearing hoodies and shitting ourselves two screens over.

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