June 22, 2004

Terminally Terrifying

Cinecultist had one particularly fussy and uptight Lit prof in undergrad who used to make us identify the stressed and unstressed syllables in iambic pentameter and had this to say about literary criticism — "some books ARE up for discussion, but some books are just GOOD and some just BAD and there's NO room for discussion." Insert "movies" for "books" and you'll understand why CC had to literally yell at the newspaper after reading ol' A.O.'s review of The Terminal in the Times this weekend and then at the computer upon reading Charlie Suisman of the beloved MUG's praise of it. The Terminal = BAD. Maybe Scott is blind? And we should know, because like AMD we actually went to go see it on Saturday afternoon.

[Ed. Note — Excuse CC while we continue to use the all caps key in this here review but apparently, the memo did not get to Steven and thus the need to shout.] Firstly) airport security, the homeland department and the fact that our country works so damn hard to keep people out ARE NOT funny. Secondly) the ubiquity of corporations and America's equation of consumerism equal a national past time ARE NOT funny. Thirdly) Tom Hanks's utterly ham fisted accent IS NOT funny. The only thing really funny in this movie — and when we say "funny" we really mean "perplexing" — is the complete disregard for anything resembling realistic causality, continuity or the way the world actually works in this picture.

What so rankles CC then about Scott's review is the way he characterizes the film's glossing of any disturbing aspect into clichéd comedy types as admirable in these troubled times. He describes what passes for the plot as "...a mess of runny egg yolks and artificial sweeteners that Mr. Spielberg has somehow cooked into a light and pleasing soufflé." Our faithful readers know that CC likes escapism in our movies perhaps even more than the usual viewer but there's no credible attempt made by the movie to be either a complete fairy tale or a comedy about the realities of our global culture. The Terminal is merely "real" when it suits and less so when it doesn't. It's lazy filmmaking.

In addition to Aaron of Out of Focus's well thought out questions to the causality of the film, here are a few of CC's that particularly bugged.
• How can you have a listing of flight destination be Frankfurt, Berlin and then Krakozhia? That's like saying next stop, Iowa. You fly to Des Moines, not Iowa. Couldn't they think of a fictional capitol city for this lame-ass named fictional Eastern European country?
• Why doesn't some New Yorker kick Victor Navorski's ass when he steps out of the Terminal finally and hails a cab? Doesn't everyone know JFK is all about the militant taxi queues?
• Homeland security provides Navorski with a PAGER to get in touch with him if they need to, but not a HOTEL ROOM? Or any of his own Krakozhian money changed into CASH? But they leave him inside what is essentially a crowded MALL to shop for 9 odd months?
• How does Navorski acquire all of the materials to build his romantic gesture in the airport? Is there a ACE HARDWARE next to the Discovery store and the Hugo Boss in that place?

For even more snark on The Terminal, leave it to the Cinetrix and TMFTML to provide. (Are there bees in the room? No wait, that's just the blogosphere.) Cinecultist's previous thoughts on the corporate branding in the film.

Posted by karen at June 22, 2004 8:04 AM