Friday, August 26, 2005

Camera Obscura/At The Movies

It was a movie that looked all to familiar, so I had just let it slide past. But then I started reading about it here and there. Seems there was some debate -- the critics blew it, they said, here is subversive genius. Another said it was like a fun 1970s Saturday morning cartoon. I decided to investigate. That's my job. I'm a film critic. Name's Powell -- Joe Powell.

The movie has a dismissive title, "D.E.B.S." and a poster of girls in school skirts and flashing guns. Yeah, been there, done that. But I had a free rental coupon. So I got it and threw it in the machine and just sat back. Gotta let art just wash over you. Don't judge -- just experience it.

The short version goes something like this -- it's a comedy about a college for female spies in training and the legendary girl spy known as Lucy Diamond is headed for the U.S. in a spy movie spoof, based on a short film by writer/director Angela Robinson.

The more accurate summation reads like this -- Imagine a comic strips which was the collaboration of Nabakov and Anias Nin published in Penthouse magazine, with some special technical advisors like John Woo and John Waters. Sort of grabs your attention. Also a great example of how the mainstream Hollywood movies have taken over the ideas and subversion of film makers like John Waters.

The basic story follows D.E.B.S. agent Amy Bradshaw (Sara Foster from "The Big Bounce") and her crew, which includes Dominique (Devon Aoki from "Sin CIty"), the chain smoker from France (a character who smokes on camera today is politically dangerous, after all), and they are hot on the tail -- er I mean trail -- of the legendary Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster, "The Faulty", "Fast and the Furious") who has made her way to the states. No one has ever survived an encounter with Lucy Diamond. Agent Amy's Homeland Security boy-toy (like i kept up with his name) is always around but Amy seems to be in search of something a little more .... female. Throw in some jokes straight out of the old "In Like Flint" days, when satire had political bite, some pop culture jokes -- calling the "Prom" at the D.E.B.S. Academy "Endgame" -- and the movie really takes you somewhere besides the typical.

How this got a PG-13 I'll never know, though some cut scenes on the DVD show a bit of editing when agent Amy Bradshaw and Lucy Diamond are discovered deep inside Lucy's Secret Lair shows how they did tone down the explicit sexual imagery. Turns out, it doesn't matter. This movie is ripe with subversiveness, capturing the ideas of both being in the System and out of it and why there is a conflict between the status quo and the independent American girl. Boy oh boy, salute for Independence!!!

The feature is an expansion of a short made by the director, who also did another short called "Chickula - The Teenage Vampire" and this year director Angela Robinson landed "Herbie Fully Loaded" with Lindsay Lohan (may have to give that a quick look-see after all, now that I see the M.O. at work here.) "D.E.B.S." deserves better than it got on first release -- and it will leave you all tingly.

The other movie mention for today is the nationwide release to theatres of director Terry Gilliam's latest "The Brothers Grimm" starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Set in the world of the Napoleonic war, the folklore-collecting brothers are re-invented thru homages to Hammer Studios and looks more like "Jabberwocky" than say, "Brazil." Bottom line -- Gilliam is a master of cinema and always plays great on the big screen.

I gotta skip outta here -- look for me again, we have a lot left to talk about, kiddo.


  1. Thanks Powell, I would have passed it by without a second glance.

    It looks as deep as a teaspoon from the box.

  2. 'Course, how could Joe ever pass up a movie with a bunch of hotties in little schoolgirl uniforms? Even if the movie was beneath him... do I need to finish this joke?

  3. Despite what The Editor may think (or even know!) that does not change one element of the movie itself. I think my preferences were pretty clear in the review as were the reasons this movie is not as typical as it looks on the surface -- and by the way, Editor, you watch the movie and you'll like it too. I know it.

  4. JP: Blah blah blah blah blah...
    ME: What? Were you saying something...?