there. Remember me?
It's been so long since I've sent out one of these things, I'm not
sure that I do.
The last few weeks have been surprisingly busy here at Chez Jahnke
and unfortunately for those of you expecting to see movie reviews in
this thing, not jam-packed with trips to the local cinema. Other
obligations have kept me from seeing much of anything recently, much
less giving me time to write about them. Most of what's kept me
occupied is pretty dull and not worth mentioning here. But last
night, I saw a play that you should check out if you're in the Los
Angeles area in the next couple months. Consider this an Electric
Theatre Unplugged special report.
Those of you who know me know that while movies are my primary
obsession these days, my roots are actually in live theatre. So the
fact that I really don't see much of it anymore is either shocking
or a natural and expected rejection of my past, depending on how
much psychobabble you subscribe to. And when I do go to the theatre,
avant-garde experimental productions are usually pretty low on my
list of turn-ons. But The Black Rider,
a collaboration between experimental theatre poster-boy Robert
Wilson, composer Tom Waits and the late William S. Burroughs, is a
singular exception. It's a visually dazzling, sonically overwhelming
cascade of impressions, mood and emotion. Design, movement, voice
and orchestra combine perfectly, immersing the audience in
Burroughs' and Waits' interpretation of a classic German folk tale.
It's an experience that can't be duplicated by film or any other
recorded medium. The Black Rider
is playing through June 11 at the Ahmanson Theatre here in L.A. If
you get the chance, you should definitely check it out.
OK then... movies, huh? Well, like I said, I haven't seen much. For
this week's A-Picture, I refer
you back to The Proposition,
I reviewed a few weeks ago. It opens Friday in New York and
Los Angeles and expands to other cities in the weeks to come.
Directed by John Hillcoat from a script by Nick Cave, The
Proposition is a grim, gritty Australian western with
echoes of Peckinpah. Anchored by a trio of great performances from
Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone and especially Danny Huston (turning in
without question his best work to date), The
Proposition is well worth seeking out.
On the opposite side of the fence is The
Sentinel which sits shame-faced in this week's Hell
Plaza Octoplex. You might be wondering why, of all movies
I could have seen over the past few weeks, I chose one that looked
even less promising than say, Silent Hill.
Let's just say it was a choice of necessity, not quality, and leave
it at that. The Sentinel stars
Michael Douglas as a Secret Service agent who's being framed for
treason by terrorists out to assassinate the president. Kiefer
Sutherland co-stars as the investigator out to get him. I love
Kiefer, don't get me wrong, but I swear his copy of the script must
have just had the name "Jack Bauer" crossed out and "David
Breckenridge" written over it in crayon. The
Sentinel is the latest in a surprisingly long line of
ludicrous presidential thrillers (see also In
the Line of Fire, Air Force
One, Absolute Power,
etc), any of which are more competently staged and more entertaining
than this one. How bad does The Sentinel
get? They blow up the presidential helicopter at one point,
presumably with the president himself on board and it barely
registers. When they shot Air Force One out of the sky last season
on 24, you could hear jaws
dropping in living rooms across America. David Rasche plays the
president and he's fine. He's a good actor and does the best he can
with the material. But the script and direction are so bland that I
just kept thinking how much better this movie would be if Rasche had
been playing his old character Sledge Hammer instead. President
Hammer has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
And that's really all I've seen lately. Awful, I know. But the big
summer movie blockbuster season is about to get underway, so all
this will soon change. Since I obviously don't have much else to
report, let me just ask this. Is it just me or are the marketing
campaigns for this summer's movies the worst you've ever seen?
Perhaps it's some major reverse psychology ploy on the part of the
studios, getting me to lower my expectations for these films. But
look at 'em. The relatively simple and iconic teaser poster for Mission:
Impossible III has been replaced by an awkwardly composed
photo of Tom Cruise looking like he's attempting some sort of David
Blaine confinement stunt (this one's in German for some reason but
the same thing is all over L.A.):
Then there's the atrocious "character portraits" for X-Men:
The Last Stand, like this:
This does not say exciting super-hero action flick to me. This says,
"My leather jumpsuit is so comfortable, I don't even notice
that I'm leaning against a biohazard barrel. Get yours at Banana
Worst of all is The DaVinci Code.
Not the Mona Lisa design posters, which are fine. That's kind of a
hard image to screw up. No, I'm talking about this one.
Honestly, did they really think people weren't going to see this
unless they knew Tom Hanks was in it? And I don't know what he's
looking at but Amelie there looks like she's thinking, "Hey, is
that Tom Hanks?"
Here's hoping they'll keep the Superman
Returns campaign simple. So far, the only posters that
have actually succeeded in getting me excited to see the movie its
advertising are these two:
Pirates of the Caribbean is at
least smart enough to show us that there's a giant sea squid in this
installment and I'm always down for that. And Snakes
on a Plane... well, it has snakes on a plane and that's
good enough for me.
At any rate, watch for reviews of the movies behind these posters
and many more in the weeks to come. I apologize for the lack of
reviews recently. I hope to make it up to you over the next few
See you next time, hopefully without the long unexplained
Dedicated to Gene Pitney
"Electric Theatre - Where You See All
the Latest Life Size Moving Pictures, Moral and Refined, Pleasing to
Ladies, Gentlemen and Children!"
- Legend on a traveling moving picture show tent, c.1900