Friday, April 26, 2013

Cranks

Pinknantucket Press has published Crank, a magazine in which contributors "can air petty annoyances, obscure conspiracy theories and general arguments about what is wrong with the world." It's like a letters-to-the-editor page with better literary values, or that guy on the bus reading MX and lecturing the other passengers about why this city/country/species is stuffed, in convenient magazine format. Crank is available at the Pinknantucket Press site for $5 (hard copy + digital) or 99c for digital only. That's a lot of spittle for your buck!

Last Friday I hurt my lower back and spent the next few days hobbling around downing Panadeine and Nurofen Plus. The upside was that I got to watch a lot of movies: Young Frankenstein, No Country For Old Men, The Wicker Man (original of course), and something else I can't remember just now, all of which I have seen before and love, even The Wicker Man which is not an especially well-made film aside from the classic denouement and the bit where Britt Ekland dances around naked, which really drives home the film's pagan/Christian-carnal/puritanical binaries and also she has a really nice bum. Anna and I watched Wake In Fright, which was more horrific than I had ever imagined. It really is an extraordinary, savage, misanthropic, hilarious, queasy, gorgeous film.

The other two films I watched were Kick-Ass and Crank. Kick-Ass is yet another "deconstruction" of the superhero mythos, raising questions like: What if a real, average person without superpowers or stacks of cash tried to be a superhero? What if we explore the damaged psyches behind the superheroic facade? What if superheros are actually fascists imposing order on an acquiescent society? What if superheros really got hurt like really real people really do? You know, the same fucking questions that have been raised in every second superhero comic and movie in the past 30 years.

Kick-Ass brings no original insights to these matters, preferring to wallow in a swamp of self-congratulatory meta-humour and homophobia. Far from showing the "real life" consequences of comic book violence, the film revels in it, wagging it's finger at the audience with one hand while jerking to a sexualised 11yo heroine cutting baddies' throats with the other. I'd have preferred Kick-Ass to be completely amoral, to own its bloodlust, but the filmmakers want to have it both ways. Dumb entertainment has no intelligence threshold, but smart-dumb entertainment requires wit and self-awareness. Kick-Ass has neither.

Crank, otoh, is unapologetically dumb but it is smart about it. Jason Statham stars as a hitman who has been injected with a poison that will kill him unless he keeps his adrenalin pumping. The concept itself is genius, a biological twist on the classic 90s thriller The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down. Statham has to try to find the guy who poisoned him while keeping his adrenalin levels up, which involves constantly running and fighting and driving fast and having sex with his girlfriend in public and just generally behaving like a maniac. And it is AWESOME, at least until it bogs down slightly in the last half hour, but until then it's non-stop inventive action, filmed and edited in appropriately hyperactive style. As various people have pointed out, Crank is basically a 90-minute action sequence, with the aesthetics - and character depth - of a wild and nasty video game. It's dumb done right: committed, inventive, and crazy entertaining.

Apparently the sequel - in which Statham is fitted with an electronic heart and must dash around town while periodically administering electric shocks to his own chest - is even more ridiculous. Screw the superhero deconstruction: bring on the high-concept dumb.

1 comment:

  1. I'm working on my Britt Ekland dance, don't worry.

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