Writer’s Note: Sorry for the back to back movie reviews. How am I supposed to know what TB is pondering? I’m not trying to pigeonhole that man.
Your eyelids peel open, somehow dislodging themselves from whatever membrane or liquid or muscle that keeps them clamped down during the R.E.M. cycle. For a second there is a little disorientation before the quick realization that your brain has warned of urination. You stumble to the bathroom in the dark, once there you face a choice: lights on or off. If you’re a woman this choice doesn’t apply to you, you sit when you pee almost 100% of the time (I say almost because I don’t want to pigeonhole the ladies, perhaps some like to stand, who am I to judge?). If you’re male you face a decision. If you choose to stand there is the inherent risk of spraying piss all over the floor, which means not only is that light definitely coming on (and probably waking you up permanently), but you also have to clean up a bunch of pee. Clearly the right choice is to go Larry David style and sit during these situations. When you sit down the mind wanders through the memories of that delicious meat lovers pizza you ate far too much of and which put you into that deeply glorious coma you were enjoying before the inconvenient bathroom trip. That’s when terror strikes and your intestines inform you that the brain has tricked you. Sure you have to pee, but the real cause of this 4 a.m. disaster is the revenge of dinner. A headache, a half roll of toilet paper, three courtesy flushes, and twenty minutes later you are awake for the night.
What does this have to do with the directorial debut of David Duchovny or the not so immortal classic High Spirits?
Nothing. I just wanted to talk about pooping in the middle of the night.
Duchovny’s directorial debut is titled House of D. He directs, writes, and is a main character in the film. That title pretty much sums up the negative aspects of this movie. House of D is about artist Tom Warshaw (Duchovny) attempting to fix his relationship with his wife and 13-year-old son by explaining a series of formative events which took place in New York City in 1973. The majority of the film takes place in the world of 1973 New York and is actually quite good. Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the new Star Trek) plays the young Tom Warshaw, and he’s fairly great in the role. His interactions with his best friend Pappass, a mentally challenged janitor played by Robin Williams, are touching and comedic and revel in the conflicted moral code of a thirteen or fourteen year old boy. Warshaw’s mother, played by Tea Leoni, drinks, smokes, and pill pops her way through the pain of a person struggling with depression. Warshaw’s only other confidante while he deals with his mother, his first experience of love, and the reaction of his best friend to that new relationship, is Lady a woman incarcerated in the Women’s House of Detention who is played really well by Erykah Badu, who sings “Sweet Melissa” at one point, and though it’s place in the film is really close to being cheesy (Young Warshaw’s love interest is named Melissa), I really liked hearing her sing that tune. The final phase of the film jumps back to present day Warshaw and his attempt to heal his relationship with his wife. And the movie becomes just kind of blah and generic and stereotypical again. Duchovny could have made a really good movie, not great, but really good, and he mucked it up by giving far too much importance to the character he wanted for himself. Well that and Duchovny looks like a sex addict with that goatee, something he should clearly avoid doing. He ran into the problem that many storytellers run into, which is self-editing can be really hard to do. He probably believed that seeing the outcome of that period of his life was important, that the audience had to see how the type of stress and heartache and fear that Young Warshaw experienced had formed him as an adult, but really it isn’t needed. It doesn’t add all that much to the story. It detracts and sullies up what could have been an almost excellent movie.
High Spirits, some of you probably have heard of this movie. It has Steve Guttenberg at his 80’s comedy guy peak. Poor Guttenberg is relegated to some really terrible movies now-a-days, but this one stars Peter O’Toole, Beverly D’Angelo, Darryl Hannah, and a super young Liam Neeson. It’s actually a funny movie. The premise is typical eighties comedy ridiculousness, and the CGI is pretty bad at some points, but lines like, “What is Malibu?” and “No respectable ghost would live in California” are pretty solid. Jennifer Tilly and Peter Gallagher, both disarmingly young, are enjoyable. Tilly’s attempts to seduce the soon to be priest are silly and amusing. It’s a movie you put on to not think in any way, shape, or form. It is certainly not attempting to be taken seriously, unlike House of D, which Duchovny wants you to view as an artistic expression. You can see the ending of High Spirits coming from the moment you hit play, and that is actually fine because who really cares? You’re not supposed to, there is no emotional heart tugging or moral lesson, it’s just ghosts and money and a bunch of Irish folks. You should probably have a high spirit yourself when you watch this flick.
So, I suppose what I’m saying is, watch the new 21 Jump Street, not High Spirits or House of D.