Surfing is supposed to be the hardest board sport to master, after skate and snow. Unless you live next to prime surfing waters (Hawaii, parts of California), it’s the least likely sport that anyone will ever learn. What I’m really saying is that I’m way too lazy to ever bother trying, should I have the chance.
Unlike real surfing, the movies it inspires can be enjoyed by everyone. And decades post-The Endless Summer, it’s somewhat bizarre that audiences are still enamoured with the genre, and its trappings of stoner-speak, beach-bum philosophers and patchouli stink. However, gangs of tanned blondes slowly heaving out of the surf, homoerotic male camaraderie and surprise shark attacks are forever.
Chasing Mavericks looks like the kind of old-school surfing flick (like the little seen yet awesome Big Wednesday) that was abandoned after Point Break. That film has gone on to be its own self-contained mythology, with the ghost of Patrick Swayze riding high with Keanu Reeves at his most beautifully boy-dumb. It’s still spectacular.
Anyway, Mavericks looks like another greasy man flick, though considering Hollywood’s recent string of beach movies (like Soul Surfer, about a goody-goody Christian girl who has an arm gnawed off by a shark, I think), you can probably count on sunscreen commercial jackassery set to Jack Johnson songs.
Jonny Weston stars as a young surfer who enlists the aid of the legendary and hilariously named Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to help him survive a deadly surf break. Or something. Unbelievably, that looks like the entire hook of the film. There’s also the now-ubiquitous Elisabeth Shue appearance, as (I think) Weston’s mom. It’s the second mom appearance in a row for Shue, after the dreadful slasher flick House at the End of the Street. Since when did Shue become the go-to for haggard, struggling mom-types? After the success of Leaving Las Vegas, her career collapsed. I think there’s a correlation between actresses, onscreen butt sex, and success. Watch for it in a later column.
The big release this week is Cloud Atlas, based on the great and un-filmable book by David Mitchell. The sprawling fantasy has been given the big-budget treatment, courtesy of The Matrix co-creator Andy Wachowski and his sister Lana, who looks like Raggedy Ann on meth. (Seriously, look on IMDb; it’s hilarious.) The film looks like a bloated CGI mess (surprisingly low-rent, considering the talent involved) starring Tom Hanks as a chunky scientist, Jim Broadbent as a munchkin, and Halle Berry as a cavewoman. Together, they solve the mysteries of the universe. There’s another half-dozen or more celebrities packed in there too (including Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon), testament to how broke the star system has become. This looks even worse than the Wachowskis’ unwatchable Speed Racer. Flop city.
I haven’t played any of the Silent Hill games, though I once watched a friend play one in high school. All I remember is that their character ran around a foggy cityscape that rained ashes. There was a convoluted story behind the sinister goings on, which they engaged in while occasionally pausing to fight off angular, angry monsters. My friend said the game was spooky; I said it looked boring as shit. The first film based on the game was a moody mess, though filled with some creepy images and The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden as a foxy cop in tight leather. The inevitable sequel (though still coming years later, after original writer-director Roger Avery got himself involved with some vehicular manslaughter), Silent Hill: Revelation 3D looks like more of the same, with another young woman stumbling upon the haunted town of Silent Hill after her father disappears. Just like the video game, there are twitchy zombie nurses, miles of barbed wire and a giant demon that looks like a spinning top. Happy Halloween!