Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sunday Recommendations

I went with an astute reader to see The Tree of Life, which was basically an Ingmar Bergman-directed nature documentary. Make of that what you will. The astute reader and I decided to cleanse our skulls and our spirits by making it a double-feature; I was rather hoping to see Super 8, but the astute reader dragged me to see X-Men: First Class.

What a movie! OMG. I haven't had this much fun in a cinema since I bumped into Betty Zambrowski in the back row of Tumbler's Revenge in 1988 and after the credits she took me out and taught me to fly in her Chevy '73. It was that awesome. The script and the cast were brilliant, but, really, no, this was almost entirely James McAvoy's film, and that's even taking into consideration Michael Fassbender's brilliant performance.

Do you remember another prequel - this time Ewan MacGregor (a fine, fine actor) doing his Alec Guinness impression as the young Obi Wan Kenobi? You know, in those Star Wars prekills? MacGregor's performance was kinda funny as a parody, kinda clever as an impersonation, but it was all a bit "I'm doing a young Alec Guinness"? In all fairness, it was the closest anybody came to acting in those films. But anyway, James McAvoy's young Xavier is not only an utterly brilliant performance in and of itself, as magnetically charming as Max Eisenhardt is charmingly magnetic, but without hamming it up in any way, and with a thick bush of hair on his head, his young Xavier is destined to become Patrick Stewart. It's astonishing.

But maybe . . . there's something that lingers in Michael Fassbender's performance after the film, a desperate intensity or, to use a word that is far too common, something haunted. The film leaks charisma like someone on an operating table during a zombie apocalypse leaks blood. The film drips romance the way the flowers on John Hughes' grave drips dew. But it's also the best Holocaust film ever! (I don't consider Inglourious Basterds a "Holocaust film" per se).

Those of you who think that anything that appeals to the thwarted inner teenager still festering over his complexion or worrying about what her friends think deep down inside your grown-up self is necessarily annoying should probably avoid this film as avidly as I've avoided commas; but otherwise, this film is an official, trademarked Sunday Recommendation.

And here are some other odd destinations. They all have a certain teenage appeal, and they're slightly strange or disconcerting journeys but when you get to the end, you feel as though you were in the right place all along:

Speaking of odd destinations with a certain teenage appeal that were right all along: RIP the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.

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