Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two Hundred Cigarettes ... And Posts !!

Oh great, another damn MTV motion picture. Man, you'd think they'd be playin' this one 24/7 on the Showtime networks, but not so!
Anyway, we're about 20 posts or so past it, but my original plan was to review this in celebration of my 200th post to this blog, because a) it's fun to celebrate, and 2) I always kinda remembered this title

in the back of my mind. Or d) maybe it was just Christina Ricci saying "1982 will be, like, the best year ev-ah!" And hey, who doesn't want to go down memory lane every once in a while? For me, more like

once a week. Besides, my life in 1982 probably wouldn't make as cool a movie. Certainly wouldn't of been for adults like The Islander here; I was about ten at the time.

Yes, back when the spectre of AIDS didn't loom large over everyone, or lung cancer, apparently. But that's the genius of the film. Like being cool, to question its need for logic is to not get it. It's just a nice little slice of life, just a couple hours before and after 1981 gave way to 1982. There are no plot pretensions here, but they do attempt to weave a fabric of short films together. ...My parole officer has warned me about blatantly whitewashing the concept of movie plots. (Example: saying outright that a movie has no plot... Plot? What plot? There's no plot! It's not Shakespeare! It's just Pac-Man but with people...) In our instant case, 200 cigs, it's like someone doing a Woody Allen clone, but for MTV. For me, there's something inconveniently ironic about the negativity of all the characters rallying against the pointlessness of New Year's at the beginning, but at the end everyone finds their true love at the New Year's party, like at the end of How to Make an American Quilt, for example.

The soundtrack's okay, but where's The Buggles? Where's Like A Virgin? Or Prince? Or Born in the USA? It's not my MTV, let's put it that way. If I were Elvis Costello, I wouldn't be too proud of this one.** Also, when Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", I was probably supposed to appreciate its placement in terms of the plot, but somehow I didn't care. Was I supposed to? Guess in general I'm just not ready for an 80s Renaissance.


There's a couple good lines here and there, however. Paul Rudd gives us the following gem: "It's inevitable, you know? You let somebody move in with you, you make all these little compromises to smooth things along, and the next thing you know, you're on some macrobiotic diet and you're listening to Joni Mitchell. And then you know what they say? ... They tell you you've changed! You're not the same person that I fell in love with. Well, yeah!..."

Martha Plimpton is the closest thing to a matriarch in the movie. My favorite line of hers would have to be "No one's going to show up to my party... No, the LOSERS will be here."

But the line "It's not what you think" should be banned from movies forever. Seriously. Forever and ever, amen. From real life, too.


As for the rest of the cast, well, it's a large cast and everyone fights to make their mark. That's why nobody wins. But there are a handful of standouts left standing, ultimately. Gaby Hoffman, for example, plays the uptight, scared best friend with Tourettes Syndrome. Every line has at least one F-word. Normally, I don't notice things like that, but after a while it became quite noticeable. Maybe David Mamet wrote her lines. Maybe she was an understudy on a stage production of Oleanna, who knows. At one point she inadvertently gives in to the Slamdancing bug. It's just temporary, though, and I kinda liked that.

Christina Ricci ends up French kissing three different guys! She should get three paychecks for that. Another critic complained about her accent, but I would say it's about as good as her accent work in Sleepy Hollow, if not better.

Kinda fun to see Kate Hudson playing the opposite of her character in Almost Famous. She starts off paired with Jay Mohr. They turn out to be perfect for one another, but end up ... well, why spoil it?

Angela Featherstone sure was hot, though. She reminded me of Margaret Colin in Like Father, Like Son. You remember her from that Seinfeld where she's the maid/girlfriend, which leads to Seinfeld's Stooge-esque line "Oh, the ol' dumping me / quitting thing, huh? Well, we're through! ... And you're fired..."

Ben Affleck tries to get a three-way going with Featherstone and her friend. Oh, he's such a nasty, naughty boy! But, can you blame 'im? I kinda liked that line that Ben Affleck gave to the two girls "How do you like your eggs in the morning: scrambled or fertilized?" I bet... nay, I KNOW Kevin Smith ghost-wrote that one. Hell, he's probably used that line in a bar a couple times...

The closest thing to a sympathetic character here is Eric, an Irish artist who draws vagina-esque flowers. And yet, he's a terrible lover; irony there somewhere... He's kinda like Matthew Modine in Short Cuts. But he's a nobody, so who cares.

Dave Chappelle plays a cab driver, but not just any cab driver. Nothing less than the funkiest, most mellow cab driver in NYC. He seems to belong more in a 70s movie, but this is a period piece, remember, taking place on the cusp between 1981 and 1982. Close enough. This is not a total whitewash of history.* Seems to be doing some of his Tyrone Biggums character but without the white lips.

Paul Rudd has the unfortunate task of fighting off the advances of Courtney Love. They end up in a philosophical dilemma similar to what Elaine and Jerry once went through: can two long-time friends stay friends after having sex?

And well, what more is there to be said of Casey Affleck? He's the man of the year here in 2007, even though he has but a small role here. But as always, there are no small parts if you're Casey Affleck. Why he didn't get to play George Harrison in Dewey Cox, I'll never know.

And Elvis Costello, well, if I were him I wouldn't be too proud of this one. Probably more than Meat Loaf in Blacktop, but still, not too proud. But like they always say, a Meat Loaf Aday doesn't keep the cardiologist at bay! ;)

-so sayeth the The Movie Hooligan

* - note to self: take that line out!!
** - Redundant? Ah, who cares...

No comments: