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April 15, 2024

Oort Cloud Oddities: Summer Movies

By Alexandra Queen

Summer is upon us, a traditional time to take things a little slower, to perhaps take the time to read a good book. I was looking to expand my horizons a little and found myself discussing possible literary choices with my husband, John.

"What do you think about these? The Tree of Man and Voss, both by a guy called Patrick White. The author describes them as being about 'the great Australian emptiness, in which the mind of man is the least of possessions.'"

John looked thoughtful. "Didn't I hear someone describe 'Crocodile Dundee' the same way?"

"It's not the same," I said, annoyed.

"Sure it is. And speaking of Australian emptiness where the mind is the least of possessions, Nicole Kidman is in the latest version of the Stepford Wives. Now that's a novel you can watch at the movies instead of spending the summer cooped up inside reading."

"It's air conditioned inside," I grumped, but it was too late. John had got me thinking about summer movies instead of summer reading. I started browsing the Net to see what was coming out this summer.

  • Spider Man 2 - I plan on taking careful notes because John and I are pretty sure that with a Doc Ock suit, we might be able to keep up with our toddler. And if any mild mannered web slingers show up to defeat us, we'll negotiate surrender in exchange for him using some of that webbing to glue our kid to the wall.
  • Garfield the Movie - This one gives me bad vibes. First, there's the freakish entwining of fates between the actors who have done Garfield's voice: Lorenzo Music used to be Garfield's voice, but he died. He was also the voice for Bill Murray's character in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Lorenzo reprised Murray's role, Murray is now reprising Lorenzo's role. Obviously someone disturbed a cursed Egyptian tomb somewhere along the line. Could be the curse ends there, but I'm not so sure the whole movie isn't hexed. Most of the plot descriptions and buzz around this one consist entirely of, "Well, it was about time for a Garfield movie." Sounds hi-larious. I think I'll skip seeing this one, just in case the bad mojo extends to people watching it, too.
  • The Terminal - An immigrant is denied entry into the U.S., but due to political turmoil, is not permitted to return home either. For the time being, it seems he must live in the airport terminal. Along with all the people who have taken up residence waiting to pass Post-911 security check points. I expect to be riveted to my seat, because if there's any place more exciting than an airport terminal, I don't know where it is. Except maybe the line at the DMV office.
  • The Notebook - Another book on film, this surefire hit was based on a bestseller and has a powerful cast. It's a sure bet the studio is already talking sequel. Look for The Legal Pad and The Post-It Note to round out the best trilogy since The Lord of the Rings.
  • Starship Troopers 2 - Released this summer directly to video. I guess the producers felt that they hadn't butchered Heinlein's (insanely good) novel enough with the first (insanely bad) movie. More sex, less budget. Yeah, that'll fix where they went wrong the first time.
  • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - A rockumentary three years in the making for a group that really only made one song. 120 minutes of describing the subtle differences between Unforgiven, Unforgiven 2 and all the other albums filled with songs that cannot be told apart from Unforgiven by anyone other than a trained musicologist or an aging stoner. "Well, it was about time for a Metallica movie."
  • The Village - M. Night Shyamalan tells a story of an exceptionally creepy small town in Pennsylvania. I grew up there. You may call it a thriller, but to me it sounds like a documentary. All the scary things in the woods are either blood relations or my grade-school classmates.
  • Catwoman - Halle Berry stars as Catwoman, a woman with the "strength, speed, agility and ultra-keen senses of a cat," who slinks about the city in torn leather pants, a bra and an enormous funny looking hat. I think it's kind of funny they cast Halle Berry in this role. She's passed out on the set of Living Dolls, run a red light and crashed into a driver on Sunset Boulevard, suffered scratched corneas while having eye drops applied during the filming of Losing Isaiah, injured her eye again on the set of the James Bond flick, broke her arm on the set of Gothika and was hospitalized after running into part of the set on Catwoman. Of course, maybe the cat the casting director was thinking of was my cat, Fourmyle -- the one who almost drowned when he got his head stuck in the pickle jar.
  • King Arthur - More women running about in their bras. Keira Knightly, as Guinevere, goes into battle wearing artsy woad with someone's belt wrapped around her non-existent chest. I couldn't decide if she looked like "Braveheart Barbie(r)" or a Ken(r) doll stuffed into a braided leather poodle harness. Not that I'm volunteering to charge into battle in an outfit like that. Aside from the fact that it would look like the Good Year Tire Man on a rampage, if I were to charge into any combat zone, I'd want to be wearing a tank. Do they make bulletproof bras? Oh, yeah, Madonna used to wear those in concert. Doesn't matter -- I'll still go with the outfit designed by Sherman or Abrams.
  • Thunderbirds - Directed by Jonathan Frakes (how his career has soared since Star Trek), this movie is based on the old TV show, with Ben Kingsley playing a villain trying to make off with the Thunderbirds specialized rescue vehicles. There are so many reasons I can't watch this one, but it mostly boils down to my fear of getting ejected from the theatre for standing up and shouting, "Gandhi is trying to jack their cars!" This film will forever be branded in my mind as Gone in Sixty Seconds without the sex. Or the violence. Or the red meat.
  • Alien vs. Predator, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Man-Thing. The comic book shops will be rockin' in August. If Alien vs. Predator does well, look for Kirk vs. Picard to come out next summer. Shatner is kind of like a marionette; maybe they'll get Frakes to direct.
  • Collateral - Tom Cruise is a hitman who takes taxi driver Jamie Foxx hostage until he agrees to buy several dozen copies of L. Ron Hubbard's book "Dianetics". Hilarity ensues.
  • Garden State - You remember Natalie Portman -- it was her acting genius as Princess Amadala in Star Wars that made up for the cheesy script and Jar Jar Binks, skyrocketing The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones to critically acclaimed dramatic masterpieces. Now, we get to see her as a normal woman, which is fantastic news because without the otherworldly hair, makeup and wardrobe, we won't have as many distractions from her powerful acting skills. Me-sa lookin forward to this one!

This column first appeared in an abridged format in the Manteca (Calif) Bulletin.
Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-07-31
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