Men in Black (1997)

Men in Black
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by Ed Solomon based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham
(number 412)

I watched this movie when it first came out, at the Hoyts cinema in Wellington central which is now gone. I remember being instantly obsessed with it. Little baby Will Smith as the maverick streetwise smart talker to Tommy Lee Jones’ hardened, battle weathered veteran and it’s a lot of fun to watch. I adored it, I had a Will Smith as J poster, and listened to the song on the radio etc, etc.

This movie owes a lot to Beetlejuice, I feel. From the Danny Elfman music to the weirdness of the jokes to the deadpan actors. The just slightly hyper-stylised sets and sound effects. Its nice in its familiarity.

Oooh shot with the twin towers clearly in the background, that’ll date this film quicker than anything else that happens, to be honest.

Vincent D’Onofrio is an amazing actor, he really makes you believe that his skin is slowly dying and decomposing, that his gait is because he’s a bug in a suit. It’s a great piece of acting. The CG of the aliens is generally pretty great as well, lots of big eyes and sympathetic facial shapes. It’s a careful balancing act because you need to have them be otherworldly but in this movie they almost all have to be cute as well so that it’s not too scary. ‘Tis is a family film after all. I can’t remember if the CGI was super ground breaking at the time, I feel like it was in a line of a lot of CG.

Does it make me love the people? I think it’s pretty easy to take James/J’s side right at the start of the film, but then K as well. You see the melancholy of K’s life, what he’s given up, the people he’s had to say goodbye to: highlighted by him saying goodbye to his aging partner and come face to face with the reality that he in fact is aging as well and has made this world his life.

Bechdel test: We have Linda Fiorentino as a bad ass, deadpan mortician who ends up being chosen to replace K and Beatrice, wife of Edgar. They never speak to each other, or even cross paths. Laurel talks to the aliens, K and J, not any other woman.

Best line:
K: what did he say to you?
James: He said the world was coming to an end
K: did he say when?

Zed: May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?
James: Well, she was the only one that actually seemed dangerous at the time, sir.
Zed: How’d you come to that conclusion?
James: Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hanging from the street light, and I realized, y’know, he’s just working out. I mean, how would I feel if somebody come runnin’ in the gym and bust me in my ass while I’m on the treadmill? Then I saw this snarling beast guy, and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand, and I’m realizing, y’know, he’s not snarling, he’s sneezing. Y’know, ain’t no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany. I’m thinking, y’know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters, this time of night with quantum physics books? She about to start some shit, Zed. She’s about eight years old, those books are WAY too advanced for her. If you ask me, I’d say she’s up to something. And to be honest, I’d appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it.

State of Mind: Eh, I remember this being real fun. Watching it now I was sorta bored. It’s pretty fun, especially since Anna kept reciting lines along with it.

Watched movie count

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One thought on “Men in Black (1997)

  1. I always liked “this kid ran down a Cephalopoid, that’s gotta be tough enough” and also “thank you gentlemen, you’re everything we’ve come to expect from the US Military”.

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