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Fierce Anticipation: Nov. 14-16


A blogumn by Ryan Dixon


“Have You Seen…?”
The Jews had Moses to deliver the Ten Commandments, and those of us who worship at the altar of cinema have David Thomson. The author of the magisterial The New Biographical Dictionary of Film has given us a holy treat with the release of his new book“Have You Seen…?” Unlike the Biographical Dictionary, which chronicled the whole history of cinema through Thomson’s own critical prism, “Have You Seen…?” focuses on the 1000 movies Thomson believes that you need to see before dying. Don’t worry, this is NOT a dry volume that will sit on your shelf unread. Along with Anthony Lane and Manohla Dargis, Thomson is one of the few critics whose interpretive brilliance is matched only by his gold medal prose acrobatics and each one-page review in “Have You Seen…?” sparkles with his quirky, intelligent and contrary nature. Take for example, Thomson on Rain Man: “Little more than a commercial for itself. Stuffed with self-admiration and gloating coups. I don’t think it goes too far to say that it’s the smug movie of a culture charging down a dead-end street.” I must warn you however, make sure your health care is up to date before buying; the book’s heft may cause a hernia while its addictive quality guarantees that hemorrhoids await any unsuspecting soul who dares enter a bathroom with it in hand.
In Bookstores Now



Quantum of Solace
For those of you who want your action shaken-not-stirred, the release of Quantum of Solace should send a tremor of delight into your loins. While Pierce Brosnan’s well-coifed performance in 1995’s GoldenEye signaled a renaissance at the box office for the franchise after Timothy Dalton’s low-grossing twin pics, the series has long ago stopped feeling like cutting edge action filmmaking. Bond’s first on-screen appearance in 1962’s Dr. No essentially created the modern action movie, but by the 1970’s, each new film has seemed content to lurk under the shadows of the most influential action films of each progressive generation and, like a great athlete in the twilight of his career, live off of past reputation alone. Despite the supersized amount of critical hosannas heaped upon it, 2006’s Casino Royale was no different. While the film was a pleasant diversion and a fairly solid action film, having the unsmiling Bond constantly caught up in one hand-held, quick cutting action scene after another felt like a conscious attempt to capture the darkened, brooding sexiness that had already been perfectly realized with the Bourne films and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. (Say what you will about Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Title That is So Long That It Gets Really Annoying to Write Out, but at least Lucas and Spielberg didn’t include a scene where our fedora wearing hero wept after killing one of those leaping South American natives at the cemetery). It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching Bond brood, but I just wish the producers of the franchise were leading the creative charge instead of sipping martinis and waiting for others to get into the action before deciding jump in.
Opens Today in Theaters


High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Oh, wait. I did go. And paid for it.  After drinking a few too many happy hour sake bombs at a local Japanese restaurant, I accidentally (i.e. intoxicatingly) left my half-read New Yorker magazine on the table and decided to embrace the will of the masses. Like a drunken make-out session where enjoyment can be had despite the troglodytic nature of your lip-locking opponent, I entered into the darkened theater hoping that my inebriated state would allow me to exalt in the gyrations of Zac and Vanessa.  I hadn’t seen the first two films, but this was a musical. I love musicals. What’s the worst that could happen?

The opening number, “Now or Never”, had yet to conclude when my once pleasant buzz disappeared and the introductory chords of a hangover began to play. Thus, upon looking at the spritely figures on screen singing to the tune of PG-rated angst, I instantly longed for the syntactic modality of The New Yorker. But salvation was not to come. For the next 90 minutes I endured my own Passion as the tentacles of said hangover sinewed their way through my body, while my bladder pleaded for merciful release. It was around the time that Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) was raging through an internal King Lear-like storm over whether or not she should leave Troy (Zac Efron) behind and attend Stanford early that I realized that I was a man of nearly 30 sitting by myself in a theater full of mothers, young daughters and teens who were, in all likelihood, on their iPhones, looking for my picture on the Registered Sex Offenders List.  Suffice it to say, as the credits began to roll, I darted out, feeling depressed at the thought that I would never be able to drink another sake bomb without having the Lovecraftian horror of my East High memories creep back into my mind.
Now in Theaters