15 June 2006

As Pauline Kael once said, "Movies are so rarely great that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them." I'm at a point these days when I'd rather watch great trash than great art, at least when I'm renting movies on my own. It took me a long time to realize this. As a result, my Netflix subscription went unused for months. The Werner Herzog and David Lean DVDs piled up, unwatched, when all I really wanted to rent was, say, Star Trek VI. Luckily, I realized my mistake in time, and now I have a cheerful little Saturday matinee every evening.

I've already rhapsodized at length about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the greatest piece of dumb fun ever made) and The Mummy, so I'd like to spotlight a couple of other goofy masterpieces. First, Serenity. I finally caught this on DVD last week, and I was awfully pleased. Appealing cast, good story, dialogue that ranges from brilliant to incredibly annoying, and a hero who isn't afraid to shoot Greedo first—not to mention the funniest outtake reel I've ever seen. (I was going to quote the best outtake of them all, but several hundred Joss Whedon fans already beat me to it.)

Second, Anaconda. Wow. I love King Kong, but watching Anaconda makes me realize what King Kong was missing: Jon Voight. If we'd had Voight on Skull Island along with—or instead of—Jack Black, we'd have had the movie of decade. Some performances are special effects unto themselves (another that comes to mind is Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York), and Voight would have sent an electric charge through that beautiful but hardly dangerous epic. As it stands, we're left with the terrible beauty of Voight in Anaconda, especially his final scene, which I've already watched about five times. I'd better mail it back to Netflix, though, because I can't wait until they send me Congo.

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