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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES

Keanu Reeves Inadvertently Parodies “John Wick” With the Lousy “Siberia”

Oh, no. If you’re walking into the Keanu Reeves vehicle Siberia, maybe in the middle of the movie, completely uninitiated, you may momentarily mistake it for a parody of John Wick. Then you realize, no, this is taking itself completely seriously, and it’s not even enjoyable enough to laugh at — not even when Reeves actually says, “You’ve watched too many spy films.” (That’s sort of the whole vibe of Siberia, by the way.) Matthew Ross’s film, an espionage-classic wannabe, even has the gall to drop a faux-iconic opening credits sequence à la the intro to a James Bond or Mission: Impossible movie — as if it were presenting itself as a new thriller on par with the greats. Then it quickly reveals that it very much isn’t one of those.

Reeves’s cool brooding feels far too familiar here — as if the footage was plucked from John Wick B-rolls — and it’s misused to a criminal degree. Lucas Hill, Reeves’s American diamond trader, finds himself in a web of Russian crime lords after a deal gone wrong. Things get even more complicated when he falls for Russian bar/café owner Katya (Ana Ularu), even though he has a wife back home (surprise, it’s Molly Ringwald, who only shows up in a Skype session that ends abruptly). Katya becomes leverage against Hill, because, of course, there are feelings, but even that is hard to buy because of their forced chemistry. (Their affair starts with Katya suggesting they sleep together because people already assume they’re shacked up.) This movie so badly wants to be a sexy thriller, but it is neither sexy nor thrilling.

Siberia
Directed by Matthew Ross
Saban Films
Opens July 13, Village East Cinema
Available on demand

 

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VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

PRETTY IN BOOKS

Chances are high that most people who buy Molly Ringwald’s fiction debut, When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories, will be John Hughes devotees. But this book will be much different than the anecdotes found in her bestselling memoir, Getting the Pretty Back. The story centers on Phillip and Greta, a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks after Phillip cheats on his wife with their daughter’s violin teacher. We might not be used to Ringwald taking on such heavy stuff, but, as children of the ’80s, we’ll always love her anyway. Tonight, she talks about writing with Emma Straub.

Thu., Sept. 13, 7 p.m., 2012

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THE ’80S ARE OVER

George Orwell couldn’t have seen this coming. In 1993, Chip Duckett founded 1984, a party accented more by Madonna than Orwell’s dystopic predictions for that fateful year. Except for the Friday after 9/11, the weekly party has run nonstop for 18 years, 17 of them at the Pyramid Club. But tonight, 1984 will shut its doors forever on the year that gave us the Macintosh computer, crack, and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” So don your best Molly Ringwald–wear and say a happy goodbye. Said Duckett: “Considering that 1984 has lasted almost twice as long as the ’80s themselves, it has been a great run.”

Fri., April 29, 10 p.m., 2011

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

King Lear

Dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1987).
Deft, funny, and intermittently exhilarating, Jean-Luc Godard’s first English language feature was one in a series of madcap adaptations with which he deranged the classics—and by far the least tortured. The cast includes Burgess Meredith, Molly Ringwald, Peter Sellars, Leos Carax, and JLG himself—with cameos by Woody Allen and Norman Mailer.

Sun., Nov. 21, 2 p.m., 2010

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TOO GOOD TO BE FORGOTTEN

Last year, John Hughes’s untimely death at the age of 59 brought about endless reminiscing over his films and so many high school memories. Where were you when you first saw Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club? On the anniversary of his passing, the Film Society is paying tribute to him with John Hughes: We Can’t Forget About Him, with screenings of beloved favorites such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and Home Alone. The day-long Hughes fest also features special appearances by director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) and the one-and-only prom queen/outcast, Hughes muse Molly Ringwald! Monday is a very (sold-out) special 25th anniversary screening at the Paris Theatre of The Breakfast Club and panel discussion with Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy. Now if only Michael Schoeffling (a/k/a adorable Jake from Sixteen Candles) could make an appearance, too.

Sun., Sept. 19, 12:45 p.m., 2010

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VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

TOO GOOD TO BE FORGOTTEN

Last year, John Hughes’s untimely death at the age of 59 brought about endless reminiscing over his films and so many high school memories. Where were you when you first saw Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club? On the anniversary of his passing, the Film Society is paying tribute to him with John Hughes: We Can’t Forget About Him, with screenings of beloved favorites such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and Home Alone. The day-long Hughes fest also features special appearances by director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) and the one-and-only prom queen/outcast, Hughes muse Molly Ringwald! Monday is a very (sold-out) special 25th anniversary screening at the Paris Theatre of The Breakfast Club and panel discussion with Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy. Now if only Michael Schoeffling (a/k/a adorable Jake from Sixteen Candles) could make an appearance, too.

Sun., Sept. 19, 12:45 p.m., 2010

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MY (UN)SUPER SWEET 16

Although we never need a reason to pull out the John Hughes collection, his untimely death this year sure made us appreciate, yet again, his poignant voice on the trials and tribulations of teen life. Hughes’s formula (take an awkward beauty, a nerd, and a jock; put them together, and see what happens) began with his directorial debut Sixteen Candles, starring his muse, ’80s starlet Molly Ringwald. The combination of Hughes’s brilliant writing and Ringwald’s excellent acting is even more apparent in this film, about a forgotten birthday gone horribly right, than in any other of their collaborations. The perfect chemistry probably had something to do with the fact that Ringwald was actually 16 at the time, and the on-film clash between her and her co-star Anthony Michael Hall was rumored to have been real—until Hughes made them see their similar taste in music. Aw.

Oct. 10-11, midnight, 2009

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

King Lear

(Jean-Luc Godard, 1987).
Deft, funny, and intermittently exhilarating, Jean-Luc Godard’s first English language feature was one in a series of madcap adaptations with which he deranged the classics—and by far the least tortured. The cast includes Burgess Meredith, Molly Ringwald, Peter Sellars, Leos Carax, and JLG himself—with cameos by Woody Allen and Norman Mailer.

Fri., May 15, 2, 4:30, 6:50 & 9:15 p.m., 2009

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CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Maneuvers in the Dark

Well, first off, it’s not bad, but before we get to that, full disclosure: I know the guy pretty well. Not as well as lots of other downtown folks, but somewhere there are photos of the two of us waltzing arm in arm at a friend’s wedding held at a restaurant that used to be on top of one of the two towers that no longer stand at the base of Manhattan. But I digress.

So to get right to the point: two CDs, one of dreamy keyboard-heavy dance rock that would have sounded excellent on the soundtrack of that late-’80s John Hughes movie where Molly Ringwald played a stripper (never actually released anywhere except inside my head), the other of techno-pastoral instrumentals, also keyboard-heavy. Disc one has blues-gone-glam guitar, not many dance beats, and was played on instruments, not sampled, though it isn’t all that different from his computer music, go figure. Disc two is computer music. Together they’re called Hotel, and are for sale in the minibars and gift shops of 21 W hotels in North America. (Perfect tie-in: Turn the W upside down and it’s an M.) The liner notes invoke our transient state as tourists in this earthly world, not that you’d know about it from listening to the songs, which stop at suggesting that relationships are the kind of thing Moby checks in and out of. But first thing you’ll notice: This is the kind of music they play in the lobbies of boutique hotels. Sexy, mysterioso, murky but precise, full of a curiously heavy uplift, like Red Bull and vodka. Makes me want to have a drink and fuck. Especially when the girl sings.

About the girl: She’s named Laura Dawn, provides backup throughout, gets two duets and two leads, the first of which is a chanteusey cover of New Order’s “Temptation” that’s been shot full of muscle relaxant. Best thing on the record. Four tracks later, she’s pretending she’s a couple of seconds away from a very stoned and very convincing orgasm on “I Like It.” Second best thing on the album. Third best? Wistful electro-ballad “Dream About Me.” Guess who sings on it.

Thing is: I’m not so sure it’s a good sign when someone else’s songs and someone else’s vocals are the best things on your album, even if your all-time classic is essentially built from other people’s songs and vocals. Hotel asks the same question as Moby’s last record, 18: Is it OK for a major artist to make a minor album? About half of Bob Dylan’s catalog says yes; about two-thirds of David Bowie’s says no. Before you point out that both of those artists are more major than Moby (and that in the case of Bowie, we’re not talking minor albums, we’re talking mediocre ones, a major risk with a minor album), let me remind you of the remarkable string of messy and messianic albums that led up to the quite major Play, which he has now followed with not one but two modest recaps, the first of Play, this one of the robo-disco he grew up on: Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. Impeccably made, hedonistic, lovelorn, catchy, compelling. But spiritual, messianic, visionary? Not by a long shot.

So: Hate on him if you want. Me, I say visionary every time out is a rube’s dream, and not only that, your dream is demanding, rube. I enjoy minor every bit as much as visionary, sometimes more. Oh, and the ambient disc? Textural more than compositional, Eno with Vangelis dreams. Convincing when it manages to evoke a beat, otherwise good for a massage. But definitely the “aural Xanax” its creator intends. I’d take it with me the next time I check into a hotel. Unless it’s already there.