The earth ground to a halt earlier this week and stood motionless on its axis for a brief moment of shock shared around the world as Angelina Jolie hit Brad Pitt with divorce papers (and sought custody of their six children).
This space is about movies (kinda) but celebrity gossip is an important social barometer to help understand our (screwed-up) world — as a society what we give our attention to says a lot about who we are. Canadian author and gossip expert Elaine "Lainey" Lui has an excellent 20-minute TED talk on the subject called The Sociology of Gossip. That is the first download of the week.
Certainly, there are more important ways for us to spend our time than worrying about rumours that Angelina thinks Brad smokes too much weed (I knew that awesome honey bear bong scene in Kalifornia was too awesome to be "acting"). However, an overlooked facet of this "news story" is that this divorce may also signify Angelina's retirement from film and Hollywood to focus more on politics and humanitarian efforts. Ms. Jolie is still signed on for Maleficent 2 but that's it.
The film world definitely suffers if there is suddenly a shortage of Angelina on film (and Gia becomes that much more amazing). The irony, of course, is that if Angelina does retire to work towards a society that cares more about starving children and war-torn families than what the hottest couple in existence are fighting over in their multiple mansions, she will be saving the world while simultaneously breaking our hearts. This might be great news globally, but it's a tragic loss for those of us hoping for a sequel to Firefox.
In other sad news, there will be no B-Grade HorrorFest this year but DIY film freaks can get a good fix of stoke with Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, a doc about a group of teenage buddies in Mississippi back in 1982 who remade Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot on someone's stepdad's beta cam. And it took them seven years to complete the epic.
The film is a deep dive into geekdom but there is something pretty kick-ass about watching these kids pull off a shitty-but-stunning remake — fire effects, bull whip truck dragging and all — for the entire second half of their childhoods.
The film focuses on the shot they never got — exploding airplanes in the end fight scene were beyond their capabilities — and after a bootleg VHS turns the ex-chums (now adults and a bit estranged) into film geek superheroes, the old gang gets back together... and they just might pull it off. It's a bit long but Raiders! offers a solid look at the love of film and the desire to hold onto our youth as time keeps slipping by. This is the other download of the week.
In theatres there's a cartoon about storks, called Storks, directed by Nic Stoller (Neighbours, Get Him to the Greek). It's interesting that so many adult-niche comedy directors are turning to animation but that's where the money is. This one looks a bit subversive and at least it flips the script on that "Storks deliver babies" myth, one of the stupidest concepts humanity has ever created.
The big flick opening this week is The Magnificent Seven, a tale where a group of outsiders hired to protect a small town form an army of assholes. This is a remake of an old John Sturges western that was based on an even older (and legendary) Akira Kurosawa samurai movie, and while it should appeal to western fans, don't go expecting it to shoot the roof off your mind. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directs a stellar cast headed by Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard, and Denzel Washington through familiar plot points like the Gatling gun, dynamite and native mysticism.
Despite an ethnically diverse band of characters (which helps the film) Fuqua fails to really put his story into a contemporary social context (the 1960 version was thematically linked to early Vietnam War optimism) but for a rootin' tootin' fun time at the theatre this will suffice.
Angelina for president!