The Teresa Jusino Experience

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Tag: She Said/She Said

SHE SAID/SHE SAID 2: Demolition Man

I know, I know! It’s been a bit. So, sue me. ¬†ūüôā The Fiancee and I kicked back to watch another movie, and this time, it was one that she selected. One of her favorites from her youth, in fact…

Demolition_Man

The fiancee’S PICK: DEMOLITION MAN (1993)

Demolition Man¬†t takes place in a future society where there’s no crime. But the story actually starts in L.A. in the “near future” (aka the Late Nineties), when L.A. has become a total crap hole. Sylvester Stallone’s “Demolition Man” aka LAPD Sergeant John Spartan is trying to take down a career criminal named Simon Phoenix, played by Wesley Snipes, who’s taken hostages in an abandoned building.

Spartan, being the kind of cop who “doesn’t follow the rules” in movies, makes an unauthorized call to go after Phoenix that causes the entire building to explode and Spartan to be charged with manslaughter for killing the hostages (PS – they were already dead, because Phoenix is not a nice dude). But rather than going to regular jail, they put him in their new “Cryo-Penitentiary” – the idea being that inmates are frozen, and rehabilitated through chemical conditioning while in deep freeze.

Cut to 2032 (the Future!), when Phoenix, who was captured and also put in deep freeze, manages to escape the cryo-penitentiary and goes on a killing spree! The cops can’t handle it. Why? Because in the future, there’s no crime, because after the Great Earthquake “San Angeles” (the new metroplex made up of L.A, San Diego, and Santa Barbara) has become a sort-of utopia helmed by pacifist¬†Doctor Raymond Cocteau who has somehow made anything “bad” (which incorporates everything from swearing, to fast food, to sex) illegal, causing the city to turn into this overly-sanitized place where the police have become completely incapable of dealing with problems, because there “aren’t any.”

snipes

Except of course for the poor people who’ve been forced to live in an underground sewer city that no one takes care of or cares about. Called the Scraps (and led by Dennis Leary basically playing himself), these impoverished people who’ve been pushed underground for their free-thought and their unseemliness have begun pushing back against the society that wishes them gone by coming above ground to steal food and other resources.

Long story less long, Cocteau altered Phoenix’s chemical conditioning to give him even more of his bad traits and to embed a goal in his mind – Kill Dennis Leary, er, Edgar Friendly. Spartan is unfrozen to deal with Phoenix and is partnered up with Sandra Bullock’s cop, Lt. Lenina Huxley (Brave New World reference, whaaaat?), who is obsessed with 20th Century culture. Action, mayhem, and hilarity over seashells ensues.

Why does The Fiancee like this movie so much?

“It’s just a fun action comedy. Sort of like this absurd future society where everyone is very polite, and no one commits any crimes, but it’s all just a facade. I don’t know…I like it. It’s funny. It’s mostly the humor that I like. There’s good action, too, but I mostly like it as a comedy.”¬†

And why does she think I should or would like this movie?

“I think you would think its funny.”¬†

Aaaaand there you have it. ūüôā That’s my laconic sweetie pie for you.

demolition man swearing

WHAT DID I THINK?

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this. But I have to say, that not only did I enjoy it more than I thought I would, but it was surprisingly more thought-provoking than I thought it would be.

This movie is definitely¬†early-1990s. cheeseball action film. However,¬†Spartan and Huxley are a great team and have awesome chemistry. You enjoy watching them navigate the case, and each other throughout. Wesley Snipes was a pretty stylized villain as Phoenix, but that’s pretty much to be expected for a movie of this type, and he looked like he was having a ball playing this part.

I especially loved Huxley. I loved that she was this extremely competent cop (for her time) who was also completely earnest. I loved that she was a 20th Century geek, and I loved her attempts at 20th Century slang. She was such a sweet character, which is rare for a movie like this.

The Fiancee was right, too, about the humor. Demolition Man was pretty hilarious, and a lot of fun! (and what IS the deal with the three seashells?!)

What really struck me about this film, though, is how much it made me think, both as the movie was going on, and long afterwards. I thought about the socioeconomic issues the film’s script brings up…and then I thought about the current issues that this film unwittingly embodies.

let's go blow this guy - demolition man

As for what’s in the film, you’re definitely forced to think about what a True Utopia would mean. After all, nothing can be completely perfect unless you silence/get rid of those who are less-than-perfect, and what does that say about your civilization? Perfection means marginalizing people: the poor, the weak, the uneducated, etc. The film also explores the idea that pleasure is sometimes “dirty,” and that that’s okay and what makes us human. Touching-each-other sex? Way better than sex via virtual reality helmet.

But then, there are issues that came up for me as I examined the film through a modern lens. Like, I thought it was a shame that the “criminals” in this utopia who were sympathetic (you understand them, because they’re poor and not being treated fairly) are led by the white guy and are mostly white themselves, whereas the “real” criminal – the psychopath – was played by the black guy. Granted, Phoenix is a bigger role, and I’m glad that Snipes has it, but it’s interesting to see the subtle messaging that’s happening here. White people who commit crimes are sympathetic, because they “probably have a good reason,” but black people are just crazy.

It’s the kind of thing that, had this film been made a decade later, a savvy screenwriter might have referenced in the text and used. Alas.

Bottom line, Demolition Man is hugely entertaining, and will reaffirm any progressive values you hold.

Well, that’s it for this week! Now that I’ve taken two weeks off to get over being sick as well as some other stuff that’s happened recently, I definitely hope to get back to regular blogging here at TJXP.

So there should be another She Said/She Said here next week! (Hopefully!)

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She Said/She Said 1: In Bruges

When I’m not watching films on my own, I’m usually watching them with The Fiancee. There’s a five year age difference between us, which isn’t a lot in normal years, but can be a lot in pop culture years. We were teenagers at different times, in college at different times. So, films that are¬†seminal and absolutely necessary to me are mere blips on her radar. Films that are absolute musts to her¬†are films that I’ve either never heard of, or have been “meaning to get to” for years without trying very hard.

And thus, a new feature at The Experience was born! For She Said/She Said, The Fiancee and I are going to take turns choosing movies (or TV shows) for each other every week. Then, you’ll get both our takes on it. ¬†It’s like two film reviews in one! However, she’s notoriously way less verbose than I, so it’s more like one and a half film reviews in one. ūüėČ Still, I’ll be very interested to see what she has in store for me, and I’m excited to share some of my favorites with her.

We started with one of my picks…

in bruges poster

TERESA’S PICK: In Bruges (2008)

Why is This Movie Important to Her?

First of all, I’m a Ralph Fiennes hipster in that I was a huge fan of Ralph Fiennes loooong before Voldemort. I was pretty much a Ralph Fiennes groupie from the first time I saw him in Quiz Show when I was, like, fifteen and liking an actor like Ralph Fiennes was so not cool. I was one of the few teenage girls who gave two shits about The English Patient. As a college freshman, I stole an English Patient cardboard cutout from a Blockbuster and put it in my dorm room:

Dorm Room Freshman year 1 - 1998

Freshman year dorm, 1998. Yup. The English Patient and Winnie the Pooh were my JAMS when I was 18.

 

Freshman Year Dorm Room - 1998

Dat Ralph Fiennes shrine, tho. 1998. Also, I apparently had a thing for those milk ads.

I was obsessed with everything this man was in. By 2008, my Ralph Fiennes love had waned…a little. But I was pretty much only interested in this movie because he was in it.

I also had severe wanderlust in 2008. In 2007, I’d taken a magical, once-in-a-lifetime (well, for most people – I totally plan on taking many trips like that again), month-long trip to France and Spain to visit friends, and coming home made me so sad. I missed the adventure of traveling somewhere new, and so In Bruges fed that urge as well, as it takes place in a truly magical-looking city.

OK, so it’s about hit men, drug dealers, and racists. Whatever.

Why Should The Fiancee Watch This?

In a weird way, this film gets at the core of who I am. Beautiful European location? Check. Sardonic humor? Check. Stylized violence? Check. It’s like everything I like about different movies in one movie.

That, and it’s the first time I’d ever seen Ralph Fiennes play a role so against type. Even in Strange Days, when he was supposed to be in the LAPD, he was still pretty much being Ralph Fiennes. But watching him play Harry in In Bruges was awesome and hilarious. The entire cast is great.¬†Colin Farrell plays a surprisingly lovable asshole, and Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as a hit man with a heart of gold.

Lastly, I love films not made in the United States. This film was a British-US co-production written by¬†playwright and screenwriter Martin McDonagh, and¬†I love the film’s British humor and sensibility. Watching movies made elsewhere reminds me that there’s so much more that can be done with film than what I’m used to.

In short, I thought it would appeal to her weirdness the way it appeals to my weirdness. ūüôā

inbruges

What Did The Fiancee Think?

Being that she’s not verbose, when I first asked her what she thought, she simply said, “It was good.” ūüôā

Then, I got her talking and surreptitiously recorded her with my phone. (I told her afterwards, don’t worry. Her responses are in bold.)

“Just…what did you think?”
“I liked it.”
(long pause)
“Cool.”
“I liked it. I want some more wine. Do you want some more wine?”
“I’ve got, still.”
“Then¬† I’m gonna have some¬†more wine.”¬†
“Okay.”

**she goes to get wine**

(from the kitchen) “There’s not a whole lot left. Do you mind if I finish it off?”
“You’re totally welcome to finish it off.”
“Um…why don’t you interview me about the movie, rather than telling me to think of thoughts?
“Well, I mean, it doesn’t have to be…I just wanna know what you thought. Your reaction to it.”
(loooooong pause)
“I liked it.” (laughs) “Um…I liked that there were no ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’ really. That everybody was just kind of…I mean, everyone was a bad guy, really.”
“Yeah”
“There just weren’t any good guys.”¬†
“It was pretty hilarious, too.”
“Yeah, I kinda like movies where there aren’t any good guys.” (laughs)
“Yeah. I just thought this was like…it wasn’t what I expected when I watched it the first time. Like, I think I rented it from Netflix the first time. When they did DVDs? They still sort of do, but…”
“Yeah…they might have spun that off into another business or something.”
“Yeah. But, um, like, I expected it to be a straight-up gangster movie, and it was so funny and lighthearted in a weird way, and I was like Whoa! This is not the movie I thought I was gonna watch!
“But still dark in another way.”
“Yeah.¬†And also, I love Ralph Fiennes as a thuggy hooligan.”
“Yeah, that was good.”
“I think this is the first movie where he, like, did that. Trying to get out of the whole WASP-y…fuckin’…upper crust parts he always gets. Or, you know, Nazis.”
“Well, he was something different in Red Dragon.”¬†
“Yeah, that was after this.”
“Oh, it was?”
“I think so…wasn’t it? Well, now I need to see when this was.”

**we both furiously consult the internet**

In Bruges was 2008.”
“OK, so it was late in the decade…”
Red Dragon was 2002.”
“Oh! Well then that was different.”
“Also, I wanna see what movie I was thinking of that had Ben Kingsley in it as like a gangster or something, like in Europe. If I can find it. He’s in a lot of fucking movies. I think it must have come out around the same time…”

**more internet searching**

“Oh! Lucky Number Slevin! That’s what I was thinking of.”
“Slevin? It’s called Slevin?”
Lucky Number Slevin. That’s the movie. It was two years earlier, but whatever.”¬†
“Oh, interesting. Similar type movie?”
“Uh, I don’t know. I never saw it either, but for some reason I was conflating the two…maybe it’s not even in Europe. It has Josh Hartnett and Morgan Freeman in it. Bruce Willis…”
“Yeah, that’s a lot of, like, Known People.”
“Lucy Liu….yeah I think it was like Ben Freeman and Morgan Kingsley play like two rival…”
“Wait, who?”

**WE BOTH BURST OUT LAUGHING**

“Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman (laughs). They switched last names. Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman….”

**MORE GUFFAWS**

“That was like the most perfect…like, I’ve never heard that in real life. That’s something that would be faked in like a movie.”
“Uh, I think – if I recall from the trailer – they played like two rival crime lords or something. Lemme look it up on YouTube.”
(as she looks it up) “So are you glad that you finally saw this?”
“Yes! It was good. I enjoyed it.”
“OK, good.”
“I don’t really know what the Belgian lady saw in Colin Farrell, ’cause he was kind of a dick.”
“He was…but he was like…a dick who was kind of like…a child? It’s almost like…It’s one thing if you’re a dick and you’re, like, super masculine and about to hit somebody?”
“That’s true.”
“And it’s another thing when you’re a dick and you’re like…she was treating him like a sixteen year old. Like You’re a dick, but you’ll learn. Like that kind of thing.”
“I guess.”
“Plus, she wasn’t no great shakes neither. She was gonna rob him, she does drugs, she sells drugs…like, she doesn’t actually work in film.”
“Yeah, no. I know.”

And then, we watched the trailer for Lucky Number Slevin, which is similar to In Bruges, but much more “American:”

So, this is the kind of film discussion you get between a pop culture critic and a production sound mixer. Take that for what it’s worth. ūüôā Next time, I think we will do it more interview-style, and I like recording our conversation. Off-the-cuff and full of references to our drinking habits. Just the way I like it!

“Tune in” next week for more She Said/She Said!

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