Slacker Uprising

Slacker Uprising is the new documentary from Michael Moore. It will be released to Internet for free on September 23, but had a world premiere at Michigan Theater for one night only this past Thursday. I attended, as did Michael Moore, where he spoke briefly about the film.

Slacker Uprising was filmed in September-November 2004, as Moore traveled the country to encourage young people to vote. Given Moore’s liberal Democratic status, I think it’s fairly obvious who he wanted them to vote for. (cough…*JOHN KERRY!!!*cough) We all know the arguably tragic end, but for the most part, the journey is very compelling. But man, oh man, Michael Moore needs a new editor.

It runs 90 minutes and feels like 900. There are various musical performances by Eddie Vedder, R.E.M., etc. I love the musicians, but the performances drag on and the only two I got a real kick out of was Roseanne Barr’s comedy stand-up act and Michael Moore’s “gift” to the Republicans – various TV ads for George W. Bush that are anti-Kerry. (Example: Hundreds of thousands of Americans died at Vietnam. If Kerry REALLY loved his country, he would have died. Vote Bush)

They keep on showing many speeches that Moore gives that retread the same water, the speeches take up about 55 minutes. The other 35 minutes is pure genius, and had Moore presented those 35 instead of 90, it would be one of the best this year. Well, so far, only about 4 movies this year have been truly excellent.

The experience was great, even though I sat outside the Michigan Theater for an hour and a half just waiting for the doors to open. Moore was a great speaker, and once or twice he engaged eye contact with me. The movie was overall a disappointment, although the great moments do stick with you. The problem with that? All the rest fades away. C-

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading is the riotous new comedy with a great cast and excellent script, done by two of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood today, recent Oscar winners Joel & Ethan Coen. It aims its satire at CIA “intelligence”, plastic surgery, spy movies, and the ensemble cast involved often use their characters to parody their on-screen “personas”. The key thing is not to take anything seriously, even through the plot twists, dark humor, and oddly comic violence.

Where do I begin to summarize the plot? Osbourne Cox is writing his memoirs. He’s just been fired from his job as a CIA analyst. His cold-hearted wife Katie is considering divorce, and is secretly seeing US Marshall Harry Pfarrer. It seems like Osbourne’s world is falling apart.

But Katie begins secret divorce proceedings, and downloads all the content off Osbourne’s computer to a disc, including his memoirs, thinking it is financial data. When Katie’s divorce lawyer loses the disc in her gym locker, two dimwitted gym employees think it is top secret information and try to blackmail Osbourne.

These gym employees are Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer. Dimwitted Chad takes the action to blackmail and extort Osbourne for money. Linda goes along with it because she wants money for plastic surgeries. Meanwhile, Harry is assigned to find the two who have taken the disc, and meets Linda and starts to date her.

These events are framed by two clueless CIA agents who periodically summarize the events, and try to find out what all this means. Their final scene, which is also the movie’s last scene, is impeccably written with humor and vigor.

Are you still there, reading? If so, I am amazed. It’s pretty much the most complex plot since Spider-Man 3. Somehow the Coen brothers manage to simplify all this to an comprehensible rate without dumbing it down, that alone is a feat.

All the performances are great and the one-liners are subtle, but hilarious. I don’t know what I loved most about the film. Brad Pitt’s high-wire, low-intelligence performance? Perhaps. The ending that hits you hard until long after it’s over? (That’s a good thing) Perhaps. I don’t really know myself.

This is a bona-fide awesome movie, so subtle in humor and yet so outrageous in execution and acting. A-

The House Bunny

A pretty average romantic comedy is helped in spades by Anna Faris’ excellent, funny performance as Shelley in The House Bunny. It’s pretty funny, but like every other romantic comedy since 1977, very very predictable.

Shelley is a Playboy bunny living in the mansion, and she’s lived in it for 8 years, living the good life. But when a rival plays a cruel trick on her that gets her kicked out, she has nowwhere to go.

But out of the blue, she stumbles upon a college where they inexplicably let her be a house mother to the Zetas, a group of seven awkward, nerdy girls who know nothing about boys or the high life. The school board threatens to close them down if they don’t get 30 new pledges by the end of the month.

Shelley must teach these girls about social life and maybe even a little about fashion, before time runs out and they lose their home.

Anna Faris as Shelley is hilarious, one of the best comedic performances of recent memory. She can play both stupid, smart, cute, and above all, lovable. As for the other 7 girls, some of their roles are surprisingly well-written, some are incredibly under-written, and one or two have virtually no lines at all.

Just walk into it not expecting anything new, but for a couple of laughs and a generally good time at the movies. B-