You Can't Lose with a Dr. Seuss Flick

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Debuting this weekend are the new movies Funny Games, Sleepwalking and Horton Hears a Who, an animated Seuss film that Metro's Daniel Holloway finds dazzling.


You know it's been a long week. We need to turn our brains off and get entertained. So we're going to the movies. We have just got to make it through a little more radio show first. Daniel Holloway is here to help me do that film critic for the Metro Newspaper, hi Daniel.

Mr. DANIEL HOLLOWAY (Movie Critic, Metro Newspaper): Hey!

MARTIN: How are you doing?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I'm - I'm an Irish lush.

MARTIN: You are?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: No I'm not. I guess I am, my last name is Holloway.

MARTIN: You should be. Do you like Guinness?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I like Guinness.

MARTIN: Yes, me too. OK, anyway we digress, we'll drink Guinness later. But first we are going to talk about movies. Let's start with Funny Games...

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Do we have to?

MARTIN: Yes, we are going to - the trailer for this, I've seen it, it's freakish. Michael Haneke has made this movie before, apparently in Austria in '97, why is he making the same movie again?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: It's - the movie is so nice he made it twice. I - you know that's a really good question. I was...

MARTIN: Thanks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: In fact it was on you guys' blog the other day. There was a posting about this that Ian pointed out to me. And it was funny because it mentioned a review that was like, what could his motivation possibly be for making a shot-for-shot remake of a movie he made 11 years ago...

MARTIN: Is it really that identical?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, a shot-for-shot remake. I must confess I haven't seen the first one. But this is what I've heard, and, you know, I don't know beyond money or, you know, the glory of being proclaimed as the most disturbing director ever.

MARTIN: Was the first one released in the U.S.?

Mr. MARTINEZ: No it was a German film. I'm sorry, so yes it's a shot-for-shot remake of a German film that he made in 1997. This time around it stars Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet and it's the most horrifying thing you'll see at the movies this year and that's not really a good thing.

MARTIN: Oh! Interesting, OK let's hear a little bit about, this is a scene, here is Tim Roth and Naomi Watts being taunted by these young men.

(Soundbite of movie "Funny Games")

Mr. MICHAEL PITT (As Paul): OK, we bet - what time is it?

Mr. PITT (As Paul): 8.40.

Mr. PITT (As Paul): 8:40 - that in, let's say 12 hours, all three of you are going to be kaput, OK?

Ms. NAOMI WATTS (as Ann): What?

Mr. PITT (As Paul): You bet that you'll be alive tomorrow at 9:00 o clock, and we bet that you'll dead. OK.

Mr. TIM ROTH (As George): I don't want to bet.

Mr. PITT (As Paul): Well that's not an option. There has to be a bet. I mean, what do you think? You think they stand a chance? You're on their side aren't you? Who are you betting on, hmm?

Mr. BRADY CORBET (As Peter): But wait, what kind of bet is this? If they're dead they can't live up to their side, and if they win they can't live either.

Mr. PITT (As Paul): Yes, they'll lose either way, that's what I'm saying.

MARTIN: Oh! So we should say - set this up a little bit. This family has been taken hostage by these two twins? Are they twins?

Mr. MARTINEZ: They're not twins, they're just made to creepily look alike. They are two guys wearing white golf shirts and white gloves, and they just happen to show up about 10, 15 minutes into the movie, and from that moment on you have a hostage situation. There's a little bit of psychological play near the beginning that could be kind of interesting, but the movie quickly digresses into what David Edelstein called torture porn. This is torture porn disguised as art. It's hostile, it's not Saw, but it's basically the same premise. The only difference is that in this film the violence is always obscured by a sofa or happens to just off camera. But the emotional violence is still just disturbing, and it's not done in a way that is intriguing or engaging, and as we just heard on the clip there, when - that was Michael Pit's character speaking. At one point he goes oh well who are you betting on? He is actually turning and speaking to the camera right then. And it's adding insult to injury because, you know - American movie audiences walk into a movie with certain expectations, and sometimes they're not the most sophisticated expectations but...

MARTIN: You don't think the audience buys that?

Mr. MARTINEZ: Well, he's taunting the audience for wanting a plot or a plausible ending, and it's - when you're being disabused as an audience because you're basically - it's non stop torment that you're watching with no narrative arc whatsoever. You don't want to be made fun of for being uncomfortable while you are watching this stuff.

MARTIN: OK, there you have it, clearly...

Mr. HOLLOWAY: It's a winner!

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: It's a winner, it's the must-see film of 2008.

MARTIN: Talk of malaise for the weekend to make you feel good. A feel-good film really. OK, let's move on, Sleepwalking, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, Nick Stahl, Woody Harrelson, sounds like a good cast.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, if those first three were in it more.

MARTIN: OK, the trailer describes the movie like this, Jolene is woman stuck in yesterday dreams, there's man who can't imagine tomorrow, Tara, a child trapped in between - before I asked you what that means, let's listen to a clip, here's Nick Stahl and Anna Sophia Robb talking in a diner.

(Soundbite of movie "Sleepwalking")

Ms. ANNA SOPHIA ROBB (As Tara): Would you go to Mexico? Isn't that where you're going in this sort of situation?

Mr. NICK STAHL (As James): Mexico?

Ms. ROBB (As Tara): Yeah! Like in the movies.

Mr. STAHL (As James): Do you think we have enough to get that far?

Ms. ROBB (As Tara): Well, we need fake names, you know, so we don't get caught. I'll be Nicole, and I want to be 13 years old. That's being totally stupid.

MARTIN: I don't get it.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I didn't get it either and I saw it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I don't know it's just really boring movie, I was - yes - I made a mistake of not writing the review right after seeing it, and two days later, I was just struggling to remember what even happened in this film. It's just, you know, Charlize Theron's character is there in the beginning, I don't know what that means, she's trapped in yesterday, he can't imagine tomorrow, blah, blah, blah. I have no idea. Basically she is like, you know, just this kind of hard-living woman, and she ends up abandoning her daughter for a short period. The daughter falls into child services, the brother ends up taking the daughter and they hit the road together because he doesn't want to be in child services anymore. And it takes the movie - it feels like it takes it three hours just to get there, it just plods along and nothing, these characters never do anything for most of the film. It's just stuff happening to them and it's the most boring stuff in the world.

MARTIN: OK, so we've got torture porn, we've got the most boring movie in the world. Let's move on to something that I hope is going to illicit more positive response.

Mr. MARTINEZ: It will. I promise.

MARTIN: It will? Awesome. "Horton Hears a Who"? Who can't love that?


STEWART: A computer animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic. OK. So, everybody know if your grew up with Dr. Seuss you know this story. Now does this film live up to that - does it capture the Dr. Seuss-ness the magic of Seuss?

MR. HOLLOWAY: Visually, it's incredible. The guys at Blue Sky made. This blue sky is like a poor man's pick. They are the folks who made "Ice Age." Visually, Seuss translates very, very well into the modern like 3-D animation that's been done right now. Surprisingly well. There's an extra ordinary scene with Horton the Elephant at the beginning where he is walking along, and you see this elephant lumbering through the jungle a very kind of standard thing when you see elephanst on movies. He head butts a tree, the tree bends over. It looks like he is going to uproot it. He walks along, he just looks like a normal elephant, no expressions on his face and then he gets to the end of the tree and instead of it looks like he is crossing this little creek. He stands up and jumps in the air and does a swan dive and I swear, it's like, it's so good! It's the most beautiful thing. It looks like it came out of like a Tex Avery cartoon. It's fantastic.

MARTIN: It's awesome. I do before we let you go, I do want to hear this clip. Can we play it?

(Soundbite of move "Horton Hears a Who!")

Mr. JIM CARREY (Actor): (as Horton) I don't exactly know how to tell you this, but...

Mr. STEVE CARELL (As the Mayor of Whoville): You're living on a speck!

Mr. CARREY: (As Horton) Well, I hate to disagree with you, oh voice from the drain pipe, but I live in Whoville.

Mr. CARREY: (As Horton) Well, then the Whoville is a speck.

Mr. CARRELL: (As the Mayor of Whoville) Right OK, seriously, who is this? Is this Berk from McCounty?

Mr. CARREY: (As Horton) Uh, no! This is Horton. I'm an elephant.

MARTIN: Awesome. That was Horton voice by Jim Carrey talking to the Mayor of Whoville Steve Carell can't really lose with those two, right?

MR. HOLLOWAY: No, it's good.

MARTIN: Awesome. Daniel Mr. HOLLOWAY, magical as always to be with you. Thanks for coming in.

MR. HOLLOWAY: Thank you.

MARTIN: Film critic for the Metro, and will talk to you next week, I imagine.

MR. HOLLOWAY: Yes ma'am.

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