Meet Joe Black

The Heartbreak Kid

Sixty-four years ago today, one of Alec Guinness’ best films hit U.S. screens – Henry Cass’ darkly comedic Last Holiday. Guinness plays George Bird, a boring bachelor in a boring job who goes for a routine check-up and finds out he has a deadly and incurable disease. Upon his doctor’s advice he decides to clear out his savings and make the most of his final days, checking into a luxurious hotel. It is a choice that paints his remaining time with the most wicked irony. Having a moment to stop and live rather than work and worry, George earns all the fortune his life had been missing – friendship, love and professional success that he can’t act upon. Except, this is a wildly dark comedy with enough cruel life twists that make George’s experience anything but simple. Though its wickedness is irresistible, the film has been tragically forgotten, its themes only vaguely living on in Joe Versus the Volcano until it finally got remake in 2006. But George became Georgia, Queen Latifah was cast, and the film excised all the darkness that made the 1950 film such an atypical treat in order to whip up a chipper and typical comedy full of good tidings and bolstered by Latifah’s charm. Though we always lament the obvious remakes, there are many more where the source material is forgotten, wiped away because the remake came so long ago, or because the remake was so terrible that no one ever wanted to look beyond […]

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In theory, CGI should never break your suspension of disbelief (unless you’re watching a Syfy Original or Birdemic, in which case it was never there in the first place).  In practice, budgets get tight, time gets short, and even mega-blockbusters like Lords of the Rings or Harry Potter will have a couple of crappy looking scenes. But sometimes movies that don’t even really need much CGI will toss it in for a short sequence, whether it’s just to show off,  save money, or even to mask Bill the microphone guy’s fuck up. Inevitably, though, at least one of those scenes ends up looking like the production company outsourced the job to someone’s Nintendo 64. When big budget movies have bargain basement special effects, everyone wins. And by “everyone,” I mean “no one,” and by “wins,” I mean “is paying attention to the movie anymore because they’re too busy laughing.” I’ve taken the liberty of considering this part 1 of a multi-part series, because I know that this is an endless well from which I can perpetually draw. In related news, I am lazy and uncreative.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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