I am going to SPOIL this movie SO MUCH that it will come full circle. I am going to tell you everything about it and then you will go see it just because you won’t believe “X-files: I want to believe.”
I have many friends in the arts, and being an artist means that sometimes when you reach for some new artistic idea, or follow some creative path, you will come to a point in that process where you will falter, crash, dead end, misstep, feedback, or make the line too thick. It is part of the risk that EVERY artist must take in order to grow and feel artistically satisfied. But when that mistake happens, it is never a good feeling, and there is very little a fellow artist can do other than to say, honestly, “Well, back to the drawing board.”
So, instead of making this a BITCH session on what went wrong (though I suspect that losing the original story notes when Frank Spotnitz moved production offices might be part of the problem – you want a conspiracy? Find out who hired that moving company!) Let us dwell, for a moment, on that which has gone RIGHT.
1) British Columbia – A snowy wonderland. The TV show was the first to really capture the rain-soaked gloom that is Vancouver, and have every frame fill with the misty dread cloud of melancholy that hangs over every resident of my old home town. This time out, the gang has noticed that snow is PRETTY and makes for an easy way to add or subtract details in the background or foreground. That will save you time and money in re-shoots!
2) Alex Diakun’s Russian is really good now. He was my favorite on Da Vinci’s Inquest and his aged elfin looks can always go either way- either wise and world weary, or evil and sinister. Here he plays the super-focused Russian surgeon (he can continue to operate even AFTER FBI agents come barging into his operating barn). He is a good friend to all Vancouver actors and played it accordingly.
3) Stephen E. Miller – the actor and the town of Hope. Stephen IS the grounded no-nonsense charm of that first rustic mountain town you get to at the beginning of the Rockies (if you are driving West to East). You BELIEVE he was raised in that town whether he is the farm feed salesman selling animal tranquilizers to Russian snow plow operators, or one of the Sheriff’s men hunting down Rambo in First Blood back in the 80’s. I think that he should be made the mayor of that town, or a least get a piece of the Dairy Queen franchise.
4) Keith Callum Renee is always more talented than the SUM of his parts. I’ve seen him do some amazing things on screen, and I bet he just KILLS in an audition. But why his agent continues to send him out for parts based on how many lines he gets, as opposed to career builders, well, it’s a credit crunch after all. Anyway, please get stronger and email me because I have a couple of screenplays I want you to read!
NOW to the MOVIE! Have you ever had a girlfriend who would come home after you’d been sitting on the couch for 16 hours playing Halo and say, “Dear, I am worried about you, you should go out and hang out with your friends,” and so you go with some of your buddies to watch a game and have a beer, and one guy in the group is a registered sex offender, and so for the rest of your life she is like, “I don’t want you hanging out with your friends anymore”? When did Scully become THAT chick?
They are living together now (so fuck you, “no romos” out there who always wanted the sexual tension to be unfulfilled, because the “shippers” have won) – in a snowy cabin, maybe even married by how little they seem to WANT each other. They mention that their kid is dead – at least I think they did, as it was in the same breath as Samantha, pedophilia, animal tranquilizers and stem cell research. Anyway, Mulder is still passionate and open to any nut case outside the mainstream, and is instantly committed to saving the life of an FBI agent he has NEVER met because this priest he has NEVER met says she is alive.
So his character is consistent.
Meanwhile, Dr. Scully has somehow become this lone Maverick in a Catholic hospital (where all cutting-edge surgical procedures take place!) while at the same time siding with Xhibit in the FBI (who, oddly enough, represents “the man”). She must fight the jughead priest who wants her patient, the adorable deaf kid, to DIE a slow death rather than use stem cells (that they are taken from abortions, I guess, is the moral dilemma there) to save his life. But at the office, she won’t help her life partner in another one of his WILD rides for reasons that include, but are not exclusive to, the following: buggery, darkness, time wasting, don’t want to, not my job, and it makes her late for hearings about the fate of her adorable patients.
Anyway, who needs her when we got the extra hot Amanda Peet. After her teeth reduction surgery, she is SUPER HOT onscreen, and put her in FBI jackets and one of those “Fargo-esque” winter hats with ear flaps, and you got all the wank material in the mental rolodex you need. She does nothing, which makes her death seem less tragic and more like she missed a few training days at Quantico. But she is in every still shot in the press kit, so I am going to get those signed one day.
She is partnered (or at least they stand around in the same office) with Xhibit – I didn’t get his rap when he started, but like all rap stars who cross over to feature films, he saunters into THIS film and acts all tough. It is sort of like when white stand-up comics try to do material to a beat box and think they are ‘rapping.’ It is slightly enjoyable but ultimately, regrettable. I am guilty – see my act circa 1987. But he don’t need no acting lesson shit, ‘cause he totally doesn’t believe in dis shit anyway. So it is the same. word.
It seems that he and Dr. Scully (and some other extras) don’t believe this psychic – which is weird, since police and FBI have regularly used psychics since the 70’s, – BUT NOT NOW! And anyway, since the long-haired psychic buggered 37 boys as a priest, his visions must be way off. However, nothing says he is ON target like bleeding from the eyes, and so off Mulder goes.
My favorite comedian Billy Conolley plays the defrocked priest who lives in a sex offenders’ housing complex that must make the Megan’s law website go off the charts. He is roommates with my good friend Patrick Keating who can look innocent and creepy with just his UPPER LIP! Anyway, I kept expecting Billy to add a line like “do you play the bagpipes, Agent Mulder?” or “Auld Reeky, ya danne have non” – I don’t know what they mean, but they get big laughs on his comedy CD’s. As far as defrocking goes, his death by lung cancer is God’s justice for not just the buggery thing, but for taking long pauses to light cigarettes before speaking when all the other actors say their lines right after their cue lines from the other actors. The nerve of the English!!
Which leads us to the END. The TV series came out in 1993. The Berlin Wall had just come down a few years earlier, the Oslo peace accord had Israel and Palestine talking to each other – the Clinton era had gas around ONE dollar a gallon and our government stopped to carefully examine our leader’s carnal appetites. So we could hold in our brains and hearts a world where our enemy was deep from within (trust no one), and also way out there (the truth is out there). Today, everyone with an accent is a terrorist, every camera and coke can a bomb. Fear and Panic are the reason air travel is shitty, and our idiot leader was FORCED on us by some unseen syndicate whom we neither understand nor recognize. So, therefore, the deep dark Maguffin in the X-Files this time out has to be… Russian head transplants!
You can read that again, but it WON’T help. Yes, all of this leads to some guy who is dying and wants women who wear medical alerts bracelets (WTF) to be unwilling hosts to his head. Your JAW can drop all it wants and but it won’t fix the problem. And HERE IS THE PROBLEM. This is a reflection of the times we live in, for no movie exists outside the context of the history in which it is made. The only catchphrase left is ‘I want to believe’ – in a better time in our lives where reality is mundane and semi-normal, and we can create fucked-up shit on the big screen, and not the other way around. If I included this plot point in my X-Files Improv show that I am doing here at the Edinburgh fringe Fest, I would get a note from my director!
I also have to comment that this film had one of the most unusual CLOSING CREDIT sequences. After the movie ended, everyone stared at what looked like black oil, which was actually melting snow that was carefully examined by the camera, and then “wiped” to reveal the names of everyone in arial narrow bold font 10 pt. behind other dark melting snow-like shots. And after a summer of digital-effects-laden movies where I sit through the names of the umpteenth digital house out of Malaysia that provided the 3D modeling for the “chase sequence” – it is refreshing that less than 300 people worked on this movie.
Then, the final scene is Mulder and Scully rowing to a deserted island and then waving goodbye to the camera, saying so long to THIS franchise.
All in all it is a wonderful, weird spectacle that reminds us of better days, and if nothing else, look for the Chris Carter cameo. He is sitting in the hospital hallway with an urn, holding the ashes of that first LOST script.