Sunday, April 26, 2009

Crank: High Voltage

I never even expected that this would be the kind of movie I'd see in the first place, much less that I'd think of it as the best movie of 2009 (so far). This is a sequel that picks up I guess after Chev Chelios falls 2000 feet from a helicopter to his death at the end of Crank 1, except then he is brought back withan artificial heart and has to electrocute himself every five minutes or so to stay alive while he chases down his own heart, which has been stolen by Chinese gangsters. Jason Statham certainly brings a lot of charm to this ridiculous affair, and the movie plays like a cross between a music video, a fever dream, and a sketch comedy show. There's something to be said about American culture within this convoluted mess of a movie that somehow, despite the hundred disparate directions it's pulling itself, ends up as the perfect brainless film, but I wouldn't know what it was.

RATING: 80%

41 comments:

Belabras said...

May favorite part was the Godzilla moment. Delicious madness.

laurie said...

This reminds me of the time I reviewed Rise of the Lycans. Remember how we talked on the phone right after and you were like, I can't believe you gave that movie such a high rating. And I was like, what, there was lots of warewolf/vampire violence? Yeah, this is like that.

Chris said...

I can't imagine anything is as crazy as Crank.

I've got say I don't think it was an entirely brainless film. Perhaps we should have left the film slightly offended instead of "WOWed".

Or maybe the point is it's okay to enjoy a film of that intensity and not feel ashamed if you get the joke.

Chris said...

Anyway, yeah a commentary about American society.

Viking Andrew said...

Why is it that I refuse to view Jason Statham as a tough guy / action movie star? Is it because he's English, and the English aren't scary (outside of the realm of imperialism)?

Bertha said...

I don’t see a lot of movies cuz I usually don’t like the food. But this past weekend Crank 2 was showing at the AMC Ciniplex. So I saw it there. This plex is known for its traditional theater concession and a wide assortment of fast food outlets that they refer to as a “casual dining experience.” That’s OK with me. I didn’t notice until after I bought a gallon bucket of hot popcorn with double butter that there was a new KFC counter. They were running a special promotion on the new grilled chicken menu item. (Have any of you tried it???) I thought I better try it since I haven’t seen it anywhere else and didn’t want to miss out. So I got the two-piece dinner and Coke for only like 5 bucks. It included a drumstick and thigh, cole slaw, fries and biscuit. Gravy was extra. I went with dark meat because there’s just more flavor and moistness. Although they make the g-chicken with only six secret herbs and spices (vs 11 for regular fried chicken) it was still pretty good—not as good as their fried stuff, but still worth eating for sure.

The move was OK, but what spoiled it for me was this couple who were sitting two rows ahead. They were kissing and stuff and making me feel uncomfortable. So I get mad and throw a wet-with-saliva drumstick bone at them. It hit them right on the cheek just as they were putting their lips together. (*splat*) So I got them both. I got thrown out for that and told not to come back but that’s OK.

John from Daejeon said...

Viking Andrew, picture him with a broken ale bottle with a bunch of other hooligans at a soccer melee. Those English are pretty scary for a short time then. I guess it is the liquid courage while watching a boring sport. Roughing it up helps to keep their afternoons interesting since they are no longer able to take out their frustations on the locals in their former colonies any more.

Viking Andrew said...

@Bertha,
Did you pay extra for the gravy?

@John from Daejeon,
That's true. How quickly I forget.

Lars said...

The frotteurism scene where Chev is told to find someone to rub up against (to cause static electricity and charge up his heart), and he grabs an old lady for this, was too funny—not to mention HOT and kinky, at least for me.

Gary Glitter said...

An old lady? No thanks!

Bertha said...

@Viking A
For sure I got the gravy but it was a ripoff. A small tub cost $1.25. Next time I think I'll sneak in my own. I make very good gravy.

loco said...

My Bertha, what big comments you have.

(not) Brent Newland said...

is lars a real people

laurie said...

I know who Lars is, but I'm not telling.

shoppista said...

Oh, awesome! Someone has stumbled into the super-original "fat people are food-obsessed, disgusting, and friendless" comedy goldmine.

I haven't been over here reading the site because I've been too busy, but now I guess I can not read it for another reason.

laurie said...

Yeah, I didn't want to say anything, but even I have been ignoring those comments in the hope that they will go away. And I'm a total asshole.

laurie said...

Although to be fair, you can't really hold us responsible for every comment. We write the reviews, but we don't write every comment. (And those were from an outside source.) And no, we're not about to start being the comment police.

Internet John said...

I'm fat, and I'm food-obsessed, and currently locally friendless. Also I sweat like a pig. I think those comments are hilarious. I also laugh at Gary Glitter even though I don't want my kids to get molested, and I'm pretty sure I've laughed at a heart attack joke or 2 in my time, even though I'll be lucky to make it to 60 with my blood pressure and bad habits.

Bertha is a character, not a categorical statement about an entire group. Whoever's behind her might not be the 2009 mascot for the sensitivity movement, but then again, why should someone have to tiptoe around wearing kid gloves just because I can't put down the cheetos?

Belabras said...

@ Internet JohnOh, well, if you are ok with it then it must be totally fine. I mean, one case proves the whole point right?

I know people have persona here and like to push the edge of comedy, but Bertha strikes me as about as funny and in-offensive as Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Make of that what you will.

Internet John said...

Yeah, Belabras, that's exactly what I said: "If I'm OK with it it must be totally fine because one case proves the whole point."

I do like seeing my name in bold, though. It's almost... fatter.

Just because I'm overweight doesn't mean I expect everyone else to weep for me all day. It's my choice to eat and exercise as much as I do, just like it's your and Shoppista's choice to get offended by that character. It's a free country. We don't censor comments, and we encourage dialogue and criticism.

Belabras said...

Here goes. Some people are fat because of life style decisions. Some people are fat because of things beyond their control. Some people are thin because of life style decisions. Some people are thin because of things beyond their control.

Regardless of who is what for what reason, a character like Bertha offers a negative cliche that reinforces the idea all fat people are that way because they have no self control and are weak slobs that all should feel free to mock with impunity. To me, this seems roughly the same as saying poor people are poor because of their own decisions (again, sometimes true, sometimes not) and people who are well off should feel no compunction about mocking them.

Of course what makes this all just bizarre is the movie review we are having this discussion in is for a movie that plays to lowest common denominator cliches throughout, not always being clear that it is with the intent to mock.

laurie said...

@Belabras (Re, your very last point): And therein lies the beauty of R3.

Internet John said...

I agree that Brenda is a (probably unearned) cliché, and thus a bad character. Her voice owes its sparkle to the talent of her creator rather than Brenda herself. Still, I know people just like her, and they disgust me. Not because they're fat, but because they're ignorant, shameless, dirty and fat. Does that make me just like those guys in American Psycho? Or am I right to be repulsed by that kind of behaviour? Why shouldn't I mock it with people who feel the same way I do?

BTW, I appreciate the shift of focus from the blog to the character.

Glenn said...

I appreciate the part where Chev Chelios punts a severed head into the ocean.

R. said...

I may be naive, but I assume that the R3 readership is a crowd with above average intelligence who are quite aware of what is what with "Oprah's social, hot topics."

Bertha is funny because she is a well-written character. She doesn't claim to be every overweight American, she claims to be the shameless Bertha. If she wants to eat KFC and popcorn, let's let her without calling Dr. Phil.

laurie said...

Well put. No everyone go comment on my Legend review.

shoppista said...

It's possible to find portrayals like Bertha problematic and offensive without being an overly earnest fun-hater bleating along with Oprah's affirmations or whatever. I hate it that if you bring up something like this, you always face that argument -- you're unsophisticated, you don't get the joke.

I get the joke. I *like* offensive humor -- if it's funny, or original. This isn't funny or original. I would hope the people I'm friendly with on this blog (I mean the people here I know in real life) would see something like this as not cool.

I was emailing with someone else a about this, and I came up with this:

" wonder if one way I draw the line is that once an offensive joke has been done a certain way enough times, it's not a "joke" anymore -- it's not surprising and thus not funny? -- and instead just becomes an airing of a prejudice. Because if it's the same joke told over and over with no element of surprise or difference, not breaking any new ground, then why is it still being told? Jokes usually lie over places of discomfort and anger. People will laugh at airline food jokes not because they're surprised but because everyone hates airlines. You know? If it's *people* you are making fun of instead of, e.g., airlines, I think there is an extra obligation. You have to be funnier and original, and you shouldn't just use comedy to run over the same powerless people over and over. The more powerless the object of the joke, the more important it is to be original, or else the joke is just us/them -- meanness and not art."

Which I think expresses my view at least as well as I can express it right now.

Internet John said...

I think you're inferring an ad hominem argument that doesn't exist. No one said you're an overly earnest fun hater. You have a right to not think it's funny. You have a right to read the blog, post comments, make criticism, or (as you said earlier) not read the blog. But your "us and them" strategem sounds an awful lot like special pleading, IMO.

Some fat people are powerless, but I'd say they're a tiny minority on a continent that's something like 60% obese. Most fat people are both free and responsible, and to treat us otherwise is more disrespectful and dehumanizing than 50 Bertha jokes.

Whether Bertha is funny or not is a matter of personal taste. But what you're saying is that she basically amounts to hate speech, and I disagree. The shoe may or may not fit, but no one's making anyone else wear it.

Viking Andrew said...

I just don't want to see you stop reading, Shoppista.

Your points are valid, and I support you finding Bertha un-funny. Part of the semi-anonymity of R3 (i.e., many of us know each other in some way outside of cyber space) is that perhaps ribauldry we post on here isn't altogether dismissed in the way it would be if R3 was like failblog, youtube, et al.; and perhaps instead of dismissing things we find idiotic or un-funny out of hand, we begin to ask questions, like, "Why would you say that?" or "Why is / isn't that appropriate?"
This is a good thing, I think. It allows for sometimes abstract and subjective conversations like these to take place, which is, I think, good.

If that made sense.

Internet John said...

I hope Bertha's author is making notes right now.

Viking Andrew said...

I think the real issue here is that R3 has never been the same since McTavish self-immolated a few months ago.

shoppista said...

Thanks, Andrew, you're a sweetheart. I probably won't stop reading -- I was really upset last night when I posted that, and I've cooled off, as I tend to do. Eventually.

John:

I'm not sure how saying that jokes involving stereotypes of marginalized groups can turn into an exercise of dominance ("us" over "them") = special pleading. Do I not understand special pleading (totally possible) or did you think I meant something different about us/them? Could you clarify?

Regarding this:

Some fat people are powerless, but I'd say they're a tiny minority... Most fat people are both free and responsible, and to treat us otherwise is more disrespectful and dehumanizing than 50 Bertha jokes.

...you're saying is that she basically amounts to hate speech, and I disagree. The shoe may or may not fit, but no one's making anyone else wear it.
I think that fat people, and maybe especially fat women, are powerless relative to thin people, and there are studies that back up, e.g., stereotypes about stupidity, existence of employment discrimination, etc.

I don't mean "powerless to become thin." Sure, with enough work, fat people can become thin. That said, fat people do not (or do not all, or perhaps do not mostly) become fat because they want to, so it's not exactly a "choice."

I think a continuum model is appropriate. Race, e.g. -- no choice, obviously. Body weight -- some choice, but also affected by genetics, metabolism, socioeconomic class, culture, mental/physical health issues, and, not insignificantly, agricultural and food policy. Man-perms -- totally under your control, and if you get one and someone makes fun of you, well, don't get a man-perm next time.

So I'd put humor likewise on a continuum. Race jokes -- you'd better be of that race, or it had better be a really good joke and essentially good natured. Fat jokes -- somewhere in between. Man-perm jokes -- the sky is the limit.

Not everyone has to adopt my standard for humor, obviously.

But yeah, I think the standard "fat woman are gross, friendless, out of control, sexually aggressive, unfuckable" etc, etc, etc, comes pretty close to hate speech. Given my own understanding of the complex and not-entirely-controllable matrix in which fat happens in the U.S.

laurie said...

I heart McTavish. He's my favorite commenter. (Seriously.)

Internet John said...

Special pleading: "people on this blog who are my friends from before will understand why this is not cool." When you assert that an opponent in argument lacks the necessary qualifications to understand a point of view (i.e. me, yours), that's special pleading.

Anyone can invent a self-pitying "oppression" narrative that conflates blame and responsibility to explain why their life isn't better. Or they can accept that freedom is always a function of effort and do their best with the hand they're dealt. IMO, that's what it means to have a soul that's beautiful and free.

I'm also not sure I agree with your "standard" stereotype of fat women. Shallow, stupid people are always going to have shallow, stupid opinions, and people whose lives are easy in one regard will always have a hard time identifying with people whose lives are difficult in that same regard. But I suspect the "standard" opinion is much more sympathetic than your depiction suggests. You once suggested to me that I must be meeting the wrong feminists, and I still wonder if you might be right. I respectfully suggest that you might be similarly mistaken in your assessment of the status quo.

loco said...

My apologies, John -- I thought Bertha was yours since she clearly wasn't a fan of the five-sentence ordinance. That said, here's my own epic comment:

If Bertha were the first-person narrator of a piece in my fancy slush pile (and that is how I think of R3, by the way), I would not have made it past the first paragraph. What's new there? What's unique? I appreciate (n)BL because he epitomizes some dumb-as-rocks frat boy, but still has these moments of hilarious intellectual poignancy. There are layers.

Weight-hate is one of the last accepted prejudices. I say "accepted" because I don't think whoever created Bertha would've created a commenter of any particular race, saying things in a stereotypical way pertaining to that race. That's not okay. But it's fine to call someone fat, or tell a thin girl she needs to eat a sandwich.

Sorry to workshop our commenters, but when you lay down writers, you're bound to get fleas. I'm sorry that one of our longtime readers and friends was hurt by a poor joke. But I guess unlike Bertha, many of us have the pleasure of knowing shoppista in person, so... we win.

shoppista said...

Re: special pleading -- you misunderstood me, or maybe I wrote confusingly. When I said "I would hope the people I'm friendly with on this blog (I mean the people here I know in real life) would see something like this as not cool," that's all I meant by that. I meant that I hope the people I know IRL from this blog find this portrayal of fat women uncool. Because I do, and because it would depress me if I found out that they thought this was a) accurate or b) harmless, original and funny.

I would like to think that you're right about the "standard" opinion of fat women. I try to think so, and then I come across something like the Bertha comments, and I have trouble believing it would be accepted so unquestioningly or defended so extensively if it really is the outlying opinion.

As for this -- "Anyone can invent a self-pitying "oppression" narrative that conflates blame and responsibility to explain why their life isn't better. Or they can accept that freedom is always a function of effort and do their best with the hand they're dealt."...

I'm not sure what you want me to do with that. I think I was very clear on the complexity of agency when it comes to obesity, which is not at all the same thing as "conflating blame and responsibility." But I doubt we're going to agree on this no matter how long we talk about it. We have almost diametrically opposed worldviews, especially regarding things like agency and oppression.

shoppista said...

Er, all those comments were to John... Loco's post hadn't popped up yet for me. I see it now, though. And thank you, Loco. You're absolutely right that the "eat a sandwich" thing is part of the same nastiness, too. (Here is where I restrain myself from launching into a whole thing about patriarchy and women's bodies that would irritate half of you, bore the other half, and keep me from watching the rest of this episode of Fringe.)

I hope I haven't sort of bullied anyone here into backing away from their own views by being so, uh, verbose about my own. Everyone is free to believe whatever they want. Although I reserve the right to try to convince you.

laurie said...

Sorry to not add more to this discussion. I have a lot of strong opinions on the topic (and of course they fall more on John's side of things), but I also have way too much work to write anything substantial. So I'll just stay out of it for now and pick another fight over this at some point in the future.

Internet John said...

Good chat, folks. loco, no, Bertha's not mine--I'm funnier than that. Shoppista, good talking with you. It's been thought provoking as always. I have a shit tonne of work to do, so I have to say goodnight or I'll never get off this infernal machine. Cheers, all.

Anonymous said...

It's just possible that Bertha is a real person and not an authored character. Perhaps she is somewhat overweight (although I doubt the thumbprint is an actual pic of her) and is having a bit of fun at the expense of R3's contributors. Yes, I thought she was mocking you all—and not the overweight! You guys all seem to be from the skinny arsed*, I-got-a-platoon-of-friends, university crowd. Bertha is not that. She’s putting herself into the fray as a contrast to your pretentious intellectualism (admit it, that's your charm!). That’s how I read her comment, and with that view, I thought she was the funniest R3 comment ever. Just my view, but hell, what do I know. If she stops commenting I'll miss her.

*well except for Internet John, and God bless you for that!

Internet John said...

I like how you said "arse."