Saturday, July 24, 2010

Even in Movies, Mean People Suck

Netflix created another odd double-bill for me, the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and the Oliver Stone opus (where’s the sarcasm font?) Alexander, two very different movies which suck for the same reason: the protagonists are assholes.

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about two movies that are so old (actually, you’re probably wondering why I’m watching Lindsay Lohan movies, but that’s not important right now).  Well, I rarely have a vested interest in seeing movies immediately.  When a movie piques my interest, rather than brave crying babies, hordes of teeny-bop-texters, talkers, and ten-dollar popcorn, I toss the movie in my Netflix queue.

I hate to brag, but my queue is very long. Hence, the delay.

In Confessions of Teenage Drama Queen, Lindsay-as-Lola moves from New York City to New Jersey.   She trashes her new best friend’s life in various ways, giving nothing more to the “friendship” than her company.  The antagonist is a rich, evil, Machiavellian bitch, and Lola robs her of everything that matters in her life.  Classmate love.  Boy attention.  The lead in the school play.  Lola out-dances the antagonist in Dance Dance Revolution, for God’s sake.  Such an insignificant thing to have mastered, but Lola can’t let her have even that.  I was supposed to hate Miss Popular Machiavelli, but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

Of course Lola isn’t vicious; she can’t help it if she’s better at everything she does than everyone else. No, her flaw is making up wild stories.  When her classmates learn she’s a liar, she makes a transformation which is nothing of the sort; she’s still a selfish taker who will say anything to get people to like her.

This…is our hero.

Cut to Colin Farrell as Alexander the Great, a power-hungry prick who conquers and names “barbaric” provinces after himself until he’s got two million miles of land under his rule.  Supposedly, Alexander respects the tribes who lived thousands of years before “civilization” found their land, he just wants to free them from slavery to warring kings.  He does so by killing mighty bunches of them, then enslaving the survivors to feed the war machine.

Alexander wins Babylon but spends three years hunting the powerless king Darius in the mountains. The parallels between George Bush and Osama Bin Laden are obvious, except the exiled lords give Darius up hoping to call Colin / Alexander off.

Guess what? Doesn’t work.  More war, more slow-motion death, and the putting down of a mutiny.

Colin exudes no charisma* and no leadership qualities as Alexander, making it impossible to believe he won the love of his troops.  He fights beside his troops, sharing every hardship of their nine-year conquering spree, but so what?  His soldiers just want to go home to their families.

Only after suffering a near-fatal wound does Alexander finally turn back, not as a changed man, but a guy who was afraid to die.

That these two movies portray selfish egomaniacs as heroes makes me worry for societal trends.  That they failed in my modest expectation of a couple of hours of mindless entertainment makes me worry for the state of the movie business.  That all I have for a blog is complaining about two bad movies no one saw when they came out years ago makes me worry for Sweet with Fall and Fish.

But if I save one person from wasting time or money on these cinematic suckfests, it will have been worth it.

* - While in town filming the movie version of Miami Vice, Colin Farrell came in to Books & Books.  Two members of the staff invited him across the street to John Martin's to tip a few back, and tip they did.  The female staff member vibrates when she tells the story.  The male staff member has never been with a man, but would have let Farrell violate his body six ways to Sunday.  I’m not sure why this obvious personal charm didn’t come through on the screen.

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