Sorta Review: Surveillance (movie) & Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (game)

It’s hard to review a movie made for incomprehensible reasons. It’s like wanting to review food from a restaurant, but you’re not sure if they wanted to make an italian dish, or some sushi. They probably just failed. but since it isn’t clear what they wanted to do, it’s hard to say how they fucked up.

Surveillance is Jennifer Lynch’s second film. I watched it because I want to (unfairly) compare her to her father. See if anything rubbed off. And yet, whenever I saw anything that resembled a lynch moment, i found myself cringing. (like: a slow shimmering push-in on a police station with a bricked up window, covered by a droning industrial noise).

Uh. i don’t really have the patience to try and review this movie properly. … why am i writing this?

I think it has tons of potential and plenty of great moments sprinkled in. But it fails hard as a movie over all. Might be worth watching just for some luscious scenery shots, or some great character bits from Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond. but maybe not. Appearances by French Stewart and Sheri Oteri are fine, and played straight, but you can’t help but shake your head and wonder why they were cast. Listening to the commentary it becomes more clear that the director is kind of an angry tough art chic, and lots of the stranger casting choices are her buddies. She constantly talks about her vagina, and wanting to fuck the various actors who are on screen. Reminds me of hippie chicks i grew up with. Probably a fine person to be friends with, but not someone you want staring back at you when you’re trying to figure out why a movie just failed. At one point she notes that french stuart is dangerously sexy in anything he does. This is what leaves me thinking that i will never be able to join her on this strange wavelength.

I wanted the movie to be about the power that men in uniform wield over innocents. or the power criminals ultimately wield over everyone. or just a good horror movie. or an insightful commentary on what it was like to grow up under david lynch and his weird art friends. and in a way it seems to touch on each of these. maybe. not sure. (* Ms. Lynch does note that the little girl is in fact her daughter. Maybe the movie is not so much personal as a commentary on the world her daughter is growing up in).

(For what it’s worth, she also mentions that she wrote a line for the dysfunctional road-trip-family-father that was straight from her own life).
(Someone else notes that a scene with druggies features a song composed by her father)(!?).
(She also notes that if her “vagina was a sky, THAT would be it.” sigh.)

… It’s like when I first heard The Wallflowers. Compared to Bob Dylan, his son Jacob is a joke. But you think “HEY! you shouldn’t compare them. that’s not fair!” and maybe on his own, Jacob is fine. not great, but ok?!? but in the end I throw my hands up with both Jacob and Jennifer and say “I can’t let it go. In the shadow of your much more talented parent: You aren’t measuring up. Even on your own, i’m not sure you’re doing it right.”

(… writing this feels like letting all my friends know that i’m a judegmental dick. feels mean. I’m just writing this because I hope to stumble around and figure out how to write worthwhile reviews)

Maybe i should risk invalidating my entire review by noting that the second blair witch project movie (“book of shadows”?) presented a much more interesting dissection of the notion of surveillance?
… Maybe I’m horrible for treating this movie like a major release. Maybe this is an astonishing triumph of no budget gorilla film making or something. hmmf.

and… at the risk of spoiling the movie:
– it doesn’t do Rashomon. While different people are indeed interrogated, they never contradict each other. FAILLLL.
– Also, i’m not sure how you could NOT pick up on the big goddamned plot twist that ends the movie: during the first goddamned scene of the movie. maybe it works if you never seen a movie like this before? maybe this explains how poorly they manage to hide the puzzle? I wasn’t sure if they were trying.

… despite all this. It’s probably worth renting this DVD just to witness the bizarre deleted scene where pullman and ormond make out naked, while rubbing latex in each other faces/mouths/ears.
… and i did kind of appreciate the movie more after listening to the commentary. It felt more like a labor of love. They clearly had a great time making it. I’ll certainly watch her next movie.

Eh, In other news:
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 is much worse that the first game. Better engine and graphics.
Worse voice acting and animations. Incredibly embarrassing on both of those accounts.

They lift the already kind of retarded storyline from Brian Michael Bendis’s “Civil War” marvel comics. But it doesn’t work. the same situations feel rushed and badly “acted.” While reading the comics, i was surprised at how well the comic dragged you through accepting some fairly blind/stupid moments from established “genius” characters (Reed Richards, Tony Stark). In the video game similiar scenes play out with expressionless distorted zombies staring around like Michael Myers (*Halloween Michael, that is) then prancing off camera. weird. who ok’d this horrible work? Were they just rushed?

I played the game the first part of the game with 3 pals this weekend (up until you “choose a side”, which is definitely a great moment), and the voice acting is so bad that we repeatedly wondered aloud “who just said that?” and we decided to stop play wolverine, and later deadpool, because their deliveries were so grating. (also look for a conversation with Thor that will make you want to punch your tv).

We also laughed heartily at the invisible women’s inexplicable claw animation. weird stuff. uh, eh. hmm.

We played the game for hours on end on two different nights. Both times, one of my friends fell asleep while playing. Maybe my frineds have problems. But the game is definitely exhausting. Confusing camera moves. Endless button mashing. abrupt cuts to bizarre cut scenes. bleh.

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