Film Essent Archive for October, 2009

Update on Mostly Boring Medical Crap

Putting this here to avoid having to answer multiple queries about what’s going on with all my scans and tests and upcoming surgery. If you’re terribly interested, read on; if not, feel free to move along …
Mixed news at today’s surgeon appt: GOOD = no visible metastases on scan, so a BIG yay on that as that means long-term prognosis is much better than if the tumor had spread. This particular scan is not 100% accurate, misses tumor cells about 15% of the time, so they may want a PET scan too as a back-up.
NOT SO GOOD = The surgeon’s not convinced lymphoma or pancreatic lymphoma are ruled out, in spite of the pathology results, because of enlarged lymph nodes she finds concerning. She also wants to rule out that this isn’t a more aggressive carcinoid tumor, as opposed to the less aggressive types of endocrine tumors. So another scan, much more blood work, and review by the tumor board in the next two weeks to determine what the surgical plan is. She also said we need to figure out whether the issue with my liver is related to the tumor or something else entirely.
Tomorrow, appt with the oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to get a second opinion, which the surgeon thinks is a smart idea given the complexity of my case. Apparently I’m perplexing and not “textbook.”. Which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me … when have I ever been normal? :-)
And lastly, much thanks for the many kind emails, IMs, phone calls and well-wishes, and a shout-out to Lynda for sending me cards all the time, especially the last one with the sexy, half-nekkid man on the front. That’ll cheer a girl up.

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Review: Law Abiding Citizen

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Way back in March, I reviewed the dreadful movie Knowing. At the time, I thought perhaps I’d seen the worst atrocity foisted upon mainsteam theater audiences in 2009. Well, folks, we have another contender this week: the dreadful Jamie Foxx-Gerard Butler vehicle Law Abiding Citizen. If you’re short on time, let me get right to the point: Save your money. If you want more details on why, or you just enjoy reading about absurdly bad movies, do read on.

Here’s what we have in the way of a plot, to the extent that the film actually has one: Gerard Butler plays Clyde, the law-abiding citizen/crazy guy who goes off the deep end after his wife and daughter are murdered in a home invasion. (And for the record, “Clyde” is never a “law abiding citizen”-type name. Mark, or Steve, or Bill perhaps, but never “Clyde.”)

Why Clyde’s family is targeted, and how he ends up left alive while he wife and young daughter are dead, we don’t really know, but just assume we’re working with your typical Steven Seagal-level “they killed my family and now everyone must pay! Muahahaha!” plot and go from there. If you start at the bottom, there’s no where to go but up, right? Hah. If you think that, you didn’t pay enough attention in math class, where we learned about how things can actually be less than zero — which is certainly the case with this film.

Jamie Foxx, an otherwise talented guy, has the vast misfortune to be cast in this film as Nick Rice, the dapper, career-minded prosecutor who strikes a devil’s bargain that lets the more obviously evil of the two bad guys cut a sweet deal with the state.

Poor Clyde goes all mental and spends the next decade (A decade! Now that’s tenacity!) plotting his revenge. Not just on the guys who actually killed his wife and daughter — that wouldn’t make for a very long movie, silly! — but on everyone associated with the case, including Nick, who was just doing his job, after all. But Clyde is out to change the system! By killing everyone! For the record, none of this is spoiler, because what plot points there are to the film were all cut together into the trailer.

So Clyde, even from behind bars, manages to carry out his nefarious plot to get his revenge on those who wronged his murdered family. The guy is locked up behind bars, but he still manages to blow shit up and kill people and no one can stop (or apparently even monitor) him. He’s like Criss Angel, pulling off ridiculously impossible stunts. Only Criss Angel is cool and kind of sexy, and Clyde is a sociopath in a film in which the lameness, unfortunately, is not an illusion.

Nick, meanwhile, had a daughter of his own shortly after the events that kick off the film, so now he has a wife and daughter — just like poor Clyde once had. Hmm … is that a potential plot point I smell? Unfortunately, Kurt Wimmer, the screenwriter, after setting this up, fails to do anything remotely interesting with it or any of the other plot points that litter the film (though to be fair to Wimmer, it’s entirely possible that his script kicked ass and the studio suits mucked it up).

Whoever’s to blame, Law Abiding Citizen is as littered with problems as it is dead bodies. There are many better ways to spend your time and money this weekend, folks. Go see An Education, or Where the Wild Things Are, or Paranormal Activity. Take a walk, bake some bread, scrub your toilet. However you choose to spend your time, it will be better spent than if you’d wasted 90 minutes of it sitting through this wretchedly bad film.

-by Kim Voynar

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Getting An Education

If you see one movie this weekend,and you’re fortunate enough to live in one of the cities where it’s opening in limited release, go see An Education. I know, you’re busy, you have other stuff going on, you’re secretly dying to see Couples Retreat. Just trust me.
An Education became one of the big buzz films of this year’s Sundance, and with good reason.I’m not going to tell here what it’s about, you can go over here and read my review from Sundance. But I will emphasize again that Carey Mulligan, the young actress who stars as the teenage girl seduced by a smooth-but-oh-so-creepy Peter Sarsgaard with the complicity of her parents, is simply fantastic in this film. This girl has the goods, and if she keeps making smart film choices she will have a very promising career ahead of her. It’s a smart, entertaining film, directed by a woman, and starring a young actress with remarkable talent and promise. What more do you want?

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Health Before Wealth

I wrote in yesterday’s column about my recent trials and travails with medical issues, but one thing I didn’t really cover in that piece was my experience with the Canadian health care system, which I find particularly relevant in light of current debates here over universal health care. Throughout the many debates by pundits and politicians on the health care issue, I’ve heard brought up again and again from the right that many Canadians, and Canadians who work within that system, don’t like it. And I’m sure that it’s true that there are, in fact, average Canadian citizens who have complaints about Canada’s health care, and health care workers with issues as well, but I’d like to relate the experience of this American chick who ended up inadvertently thrust into it on a business trip, and give you my perspective.

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“I went through my Twitter feed recently, muting anybody talking about politics. I’ve just had enough. My attitude is to always be encouraging, be as positive and as constructive as possible. People are too quick to form an opinion and to judge. It’s a scramble up the hill to the moral high ground isn’t it?”

“It’s quite weird going from never having been interviewed before to being interviewed 500 times. Suddenly people are writing down what you’re saying, they’re recording it and putting online. We lucked out with Down Terrace because people were really kind about it – it was a first film and low budget, we felt we’d been given the benefit of the doubt. With Kill List, I thought critically we were gonna get really fucked. But it didn’t happen. It’s a very weird film, you know. And it’s a mean film, it’s much meaner than most movies are. I watch a lot of modern horror movies and they’re scary, but they’re not mean like that.”
~ Ben Wheatley

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray