Notes from the back row 

Sticking up for St. Angelina

I don't receive that many movie column related emails even though my address is listed right here on the page. I get the odd recommendation or heads up on a new independent or underground film I might like. Once I got schooled for screwing up some French translations and every time Michael Moore makes a documentary I hear from one or two neoconservative Americans out for blood but for the most part, after eight years and over 400 columns, I don't get that much feedback.

Until that Angelina Jolie/Salt column I did a few weeks ago - that brought the heat. Emails flooded in, mostly negative. Apparently people aren't loving the world's best-looking humanitarian/action star these days. Not surprisingly, it was mostly chicks complaining but regardless, I re-watched Salt at the drive-in last night and it's good summer entertainment - who cares if some parts don't add up, it's all about how the light hits Angelina as she leaps from vehicle to moving vehicle.

The haters will also be unhappy to know that Salt is a success, pulling in over $200 million worldwide so far, and that Angelina is set to make her directorial debut. Apparently the flick, which she reportedly wrote herself, will be a love story set during the Bosnian war and she'll use real Serb and Bosnian actors throughout. Hopefully Angelina makes a cameo, and the flick is guaranteed awesome if she does, but even so I'll get behind Angie as a writer/director even if it's just to keep my inbox flooded with bitterness.

In any case, there are some films opening this week at the good old Village 8, one of which is Piranha, the best movie of the summer and a cinematic tour-de-force that perfectly balances prehistoric fish and motorboating strippers with Elizabeth Shue doing the pool-toy Olympics as the cherry on top. Don't even worry that our world-class resort can't afford 3D because Piranha was filmed regular and then converted so it is still totally awesome in 2D. Featuring great cameos (Christopher Lloyd!) and the best gore and death scenes in years, the only way Piranha could be better would be if Angelina was in it.

She isn't, but Eli Roth is and he's also one of the producers of The Last Exorcism, opening Friday. Newcomer German director Daniel Stamm knocks it out of the park, utilizing the now almost cliché faux-documentary camera style to restrained perfection while following a disenfranchised reverend on what he thinks will be his last time out relieving religious fanatics of their money by performing faux-exorcisms. But this time it's the real thing - or is it? The cast of mostly unknown actors takes all those old Exorcist conventions and runs wild. Satan stalks the Bible Belt and while The Last Exorcism is not groundbreaking, it is creepy, well-made and worth seeing.

Also opening, and kind of worth seeing (if you're bored) is Takers, a paint-by-numbers heist movie with killer action sequences and not-so-killer anything else. Matt Dillon stars as a detective out to stop a gang of "cocky assholes" including Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious), rapper T.I. and that R&B cheese-dick Chris Brown, the sissy who beats his girlfriends. Other than that guy, the movie is fast-paced with good stunts but suffers whenever it gets into characterization or thematic depth. Hot-ass Zoe Saldana makes a very brief cameo though, so there's that.

Anyhow dear readers, it's been eight years this month that I've been trash-talking other people's hard work in this space while categorically supporting anything Angelina. Keep firing me emails and don't forget about the B-Grade HorrorFest coming up in October. Go to www.heavyhitting.com and start making your horror movies now.

 

 

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