Notes from the Back Row 

Return to Narnia saved by return of Angelina

Ponder this... Do kids know when a kids' movie is shitty? Like, will a nine-year boy old walk out of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Trader and be able to understand that it's a heavy-handed shovel cramming the religious value of "Faith" down his throat? Will a seven-year-old girl realize that Lucy's new jealous/vanity character arc is handled with the grace of a late-stage leper juggling chainsaws? Or are kids just happy to see bright lights, Minotaurs, and characters they remember?

Narnia- Dawn Trader director Michael Apted doesn't give the kids much credit. With over 20 films you've never heard under his belt, this director's take on Narnia lacks childish wonderment and he really pushes his points as if he's lecturing children about adventure instead of taking them on one.

Will kids still like it? Yes they will. Can they tell crap from gold? Sure they can, but if you're taking them out and buying them candy, who cares?

Personally, I care about The Tourist, an old-school, everyman/femme fatale thriller picture starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The roles in this on-the-run flick are of a more classic and traditional "Hitchcockian" flavour but there is ass-kicking as well, fear not. Set in Paris and Venice, The Tourist is written by Chris McQuarrie ( The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) and directed by a Euro named Florian Henckel von Donnersmack ( The Lives of Others). Depp and Jolie rarely disappoint ( Beyond Borders was good and so was Nick of Time ) and thus The Tourist is a must-see. You can't beat Angelina.

The hard-to-find movie of the week is Frat House a documentary that Todd Phillips ( Old School, The Hangover) made in 1998. After hanging around some of the douchiest jock assholes ever captured on film and lots of Guantanemo-esque torture/power-tripping scenes, Frat House follows Phillips as he endures the 10-week hazing process which climaxes with him being shoved into a metal dog cage while the "brothers" pour beer, tobacco spit, ashtrays and insults all over him.

The film does a good job of shedding light on a ridiculous sub-culture of machismo and brotherhood, and it's entertaining the same way a time-lapse of maggots eating puked-up pizza would be, but the real interesting part is that HBO, after paying for it and screening it at Sundance, never released Frat House . According to an old interview Phillips did with Vice Magazine's Alex Godfrey, it was because you can't expose the true behavior of rich white kids without consequences.

"When you turn your camera on the sons and daughters of rich, white Americans, you're going to get heat for it," Phillips says. "HBO has made many award winning documentaries about pimps and whores and strippers and crack and taxi-cab confessions and blah blah blah. They've made movies about skinheads and anti-abortion maniacs. Important movies, but movies about the fringe of society. The fringe, I feel, are easy targets, but Frat House is about upper white class kids whose parents are lawyers and doctors and politicians... people who have many resources, and will threaten to sue. You either fight that battle or you don't."

Unfortunately, the scale gets larger. These educated-idiot frathouse types end up becoming the educated idiots running American big business/government (it's the same thing in my opinion) and when WikiLeaks recently exposed a few truths about the rich white people currently in charge it went over just as well as Frat House did, with lots of, "Get out of here or we'll kill you!" or "You can't do that!" and "But it was all for your own good."

What bullshit. People with secrets are just people looking to screw someone over. Ponder that...

 

 

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