Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Number Twenty-(YAWN)

Of the 20 movies Joel Schumacher has made, only two of them were released in the fall months, traditionally the gilded age of cinema in the calendar year. The rest were products of the summer blockbuster season (e.g. Batman and Robin) or "Spring Dumps," a term my housemate coined and that has no actual meaning. Of course, the point is taken: springtime ain't generally a good time for cinema, while the summer is a season of over-production, implausible narratives, and probably a lot of fiery explosions to replace characters that are worth a damn. The fall months, to the contrary are full of delicious Oscar delights--Hollywood high art (or high-er anyway), provocative stories, and classic directors.

Schumacher's flick Flawless, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a drag queen who teaches recent stroke victim Robert DeNiro to sing, was out in November 1999, and Veronica Guerin about an assassinated Irish journalist, was released in October 2003. All the rest were put out in the cinema slump months between January and August. But I am lying. Who could forget D.C. Cab with Mr. T ("Let the wackiest Cab Co. in Town take you for a ride!") released on December 16, 1983? (Was that out before the Academy made their nominations that year?)

My point: Schumacher is not known for great movies, and his release dates are a good measure of that. In his defense, I have a soft spot for Batman Forever (though I haven't seen it since the summer of 1995), and Phone Booth was rather suspenseful considering the whole movie took place in a phone booth on one street scene. His most recent The Number 23, however, clinched a permanent place for him as a mediocre director--and again, it was released just last month, February 23, Hollywood's hibernation period.

There are a lot of problems with this wanna-be B-film, mostly that its noir-ish look is too manufactured to take seriously. It doesn't help when I burst out laughing at the dramatic delivery of some of Jim Carey's lines either. The photography was either under-lit or under-exposed, which gave it a gray complexion, and actually made it difficult to see at some points. It wasn't the low, work-with-what-you've-got budget of old B's, like Edgar G. Ulmer's overhead high-key light that paints his characters with black eyes in Detour (1945). The Number 23 had $32 million to work with, a bit different from Detour's $30,000. Kick up the exposure or wattage on Schumacher's movie in other words, and what you've got is an picture uninspired, and plain homogenous.

Also, The Onion had this to say, and it's way more scathing and hilarious than the wrangling of my words.


Blogger Matt Singer said...

Word on the street is your boyfriend liked it.

10:14 PM  
Blogger P.L. Kerpius said...

Oh, it's true. (these academics get so cooped up they don't know the difference anymore!!---ooop! just kidding hun!)

10:17 PM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

Here's the question though: is liking a Joel Schumacher movie grounds for dismissal from a relationship?

10:22 PM  
Blogger P.L. Kerpius said...

I have to say no--let us not give Schumacher so much influence in our lives.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Matt Singer said...

Mmm...such wisdom. I think we really to hear from the Hamblogger on this one.

10:52 PM  

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