You are here

2 stars

Southland Tales

dir: Richard Kelly
[img_assist|nid=5|title=Fucking terrible tales|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=277|height=400]
Sure, Richard Kelly made Donnie Darko, but what has he done for us lately?

Well, pull up a pew and prepare to be dazzled: he made a really shit follow-up film called Southland Tales.

Southland Tales is, at the same time, an incoherent and over-explained mess that has almost no redeeming value except that the viewer shifts between boredom and incredulity on a second-to-second basis.

The issue that plagues me the most is that I can’t figure out why the actors and crew making this load of crap didn’t rebel and overthrow Kelly in a bloody coup. He should have, based on how painfully embarrassing scene after scene is, been strung up like Mussolini at the end of his reign of terror.

It’s pretty clear that whatever happened to make Donnie Darko a fan favourite was almost purely by accident. Not only does Kelly fail to achieve anything worthwhile in this flick, he proves consistently that he has no idea how to tell a story or how to make a film.

Rating:

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

dir: Shekhar Kapur
[img_assist|nid=21|title=Get me off of this fucking horse|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
I’ve figured something out. It’s been something of a revelation. I finally understood what history represents to those who make movies.

History is a brand, a logo. Historical figures, real people who once lived and did great, mediocre or dastardly deeds, are nothing more than marketing properties.

Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, the monarch who presided over a great time for the Empire, is as real to the people who made this film as Robin Hood, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Darth Vader. They’re branded characters, recognisable from their trademark physical characteristics, a few character traits (stealing from the rich, choking people without touching them, being drunk and gay) and little else. Elizabeth is whatever they want her to be, and whatever Cate Blanchett’s ego wants her to be.

Because the selling point alone is that it’s Our Cate playing the Elizabeth property for the second time.

Rating:

Ocean's Thirteen

dir: Steven Soderbergh
[img_assist|nid=744|title=Oh fuck do we suck in this|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=420|height=321]
Lord Jesus, Satan, Buddha, Easter Bunny: save me from myself. If a punter ventures forth to the cinema or a rental place and buys a ticket or hires something they know nothing about, I guess they’ve got the right to be pissed off when it turns out to be woeful and blowful.

If you watch something knowing full well how much of a craptacular experience it’s going to be, then how much of a right do you have to complain?

Bugger-all, but rights don’t always dictate actions.

Ocean’s 13 or Thirteen is the unlucky third entry in this glib, shallow franchise centred around the fact that Brad Pitt and George Clooney occasionally want to get paid a shitload of money so that they can remain high in the public’s celebrity consciousness without having to actually act in a film. They’re being paid to play themselves, which I’m sure is wonderful for the women who routinely swoon whenever they watch them being ‘interviewed’ on Oprah, but it is of little interest to me.

Several times during this flick our two main protagonists are almost interrupted by the camera in the middle of an anecdote that sounds something like:

Rating:

Hitcher, The (2007)

dir: Dave Myers
[img_assist|nid=762|title=Shoot me for being in this deeply shitty movie|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=200]
Is the message that you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers? Or that you should pick up hitchhikers, lest they become murderous lunatics? Or is it that you shouldn’t pick up The Hitcher 2007, because it’s a dull remake of a superior horror flick from the 80s?

I like Sean Bean, I really do. He was good as Boromir in the Lord’s Ringpiece movies, good as the villain in the only tolerable Brosnan Bond flick Goldeneye, and good in a half dozen other flicks. He’s no Rutger Hauer though.

Rutger Hauer was, in some ways, the 80s. I have a deep love for the man, who could play shlocky heroes and shlockier villains in any flick they attached his meaty presence to. It doesn’t matter that most of them were utter shite. That’s the thing about 80s flicks as opposed to any bad flicks from any other era that I can think of: they’re watchable (now) despite being terrible simply because they’re 80s flicks. There’s so much to enjoy about them in spite of and often because of their relative terribleness.

Rating:

Smokin' Aces

dir: Joe Carnahan
[img_assist|nid=785|title=A very stupid and pointless movie. But she does look pretty with a gun.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=298]
Some films fill your soul and entire being with joy after you’ve watched them. Others fill you with adrenalin, disgust, dread or relief. Most leave you feeling as much or as little as you did when you walked into the theatre, but at least they distracted you for a while.

A select few movies make you feel so empty inside that you wonder why the fuck you bother anymore.

Smokin’ Aces, which sounds like a cool, hip title aimed at people who think smoking is aces, is stuffed to overflowing with actors with little of importance to do. It has a plot which is meant to be outlandish and anarchic, and whilst it succeeds in being chaotic, it has little more to justify its existence. All these actors aren’t really called upon to do much acting by a schizophrenic script that tries to be equal parts Guy Ritchie (of Lock, Stock and marrying Madonna fame) and Tarantino, and is worse than both. With too many actors and too little for them to do, it doesn’t know where its loyalties lie.

It also insults us with its pointlessness, underlined by an ending no-one could care for. It is mired in a 70s aesthetic that never convinces and never gets beyond looking like a limp parody of a parody.

Rating:

Ghost Rider

dir: Mark Steven Johnson
[img_assist|nid=788|title=It's worse than it looks|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=335|height=400]
I knew this flick would be a disaster. In concept, in implementation, and in the fact that they chose to film it in Melbourne. For a big budget comic book adaptation, this had stinker projecting outwards from it when they were making it two years ago in Melbourne’s side streets and cemeteries. Melbourne standing in for a generic Texan city: that’s hilarious.

But mostly I knew this would be craptacular because of the singular absence of the Alan Vega / Suicide version of the song Ghost Rider. They couldn’t even get the Rollins Band version of it. They couldn’t even get some crappy contemporary emo band like My Chemical Romance to cover the goddamn song. Now that would have been a treat.

From such an inauspicious beginning does the rest of the fiasco proceed. Then they cast Nicolas Cage in the lead role, who attacks it with the kind of hopped-up Elvis impersonation he only gives in his most awful performances. His excruciating performance rivals anything he recently did in the equally appalling Wicker Man remake. And that wig, my gods above, that wig on Cage’s head: it is the most unbelievable special effect in the entire movie. And when a movie contains demons, spirits and a flaming skeleton on the bike from hell, and it’s the wig that looks the most unbelievable, you know the problems are just starting.

Rating:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

dir: Jonathan Liebesman
[img_assist|nid=823|title=Even R. Lee Ermey being The Man so profoundly doesn't save this pile o' shit|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=240]
Oh, what a woeful, woeful film. Hopefully it’s an Ending instead of a Beginning. It’s bad enough that they did a remake of the original in the first place, but now, compounding their crime by following the redundant with the plain unnecessary, they’ve gone and prequelled a horror classic. In doing so they’ve so how managed to make it anything but horrific, and substantially less than a classic.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is not so much an origin story about the origins of the murderous Hewitt clan so much as it is the endpoint of intellectual bankruptcy that serves the interests of greed without an ounce of creativity. The TCM remake made some money, so another flick scraping through the bottom of the barrel just had to be made, even though from watching this crap I can see clearly now that they had no idea what they were doing from start to finish.

In ripping the shit out of a review for a prequel / sequel / another trip to the well to whip the dead horse dismembered by a chainsaw, it requires an apologia or defence of the original. For perspective’s sake, at least.

Rating:

Shortbus

dir: John Cameron Mitchell
[img_assist|nid=848|title=Crash this bus into something explosive, please|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=350]
I really wanted to like this movie. I went in with an open mind, and when I use that phrase, I don’t just mean it as a cliché palliative. Generally, I walk into a cinema with a mind so open wide that bits of brain matter fall out every time I open my mouth to shovel in popcorn.

It’s not a bad way to approach film watching. The more crap we see, the more preconceived ideas we have of what something is going to be like unwatched and how it is likely to turn out. It helps to preserve your sanity if you can try to switch off at least some of the voices in your head when you walk across the threshold, if you ever hope to get anything out of 90 per cent of flicks you end up enduring.

John Cameron Mitchell’s first film Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a complete surprise to me, in that I didn’t expect to like it and came out loving it. The thought of watching a post-pre op transsexual onscreen for an hour and a half didn’t appeal to me until I got to enjoy Hedwig’s sweet blend of humour, music and surprising poignancy.

Rating:

Underworld Evolution

dir: Len Wiseman
[img_assist|nid=902|title=Excuse me, could you get me a can opener? I'm having trouble getting out of this outfit|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=300]
Evolution, if we are to believe in Darwin’s satanically inspired theory, occurs incrementally over a great amount of time, resulting in minute changes on the micro level, and new species on the macro level. But over a great expanse of time.

The only connection the term ‘evolution’ has with this vampire / werewolf action flick, Underworld: Evolution, is that as if by a miracle, this sequel is better than the original film. The improvement, however, is tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye, and, like changes in species, will require millions of years before it really matters.

No ‘evolution’ of any sort occurs in this film, as far as I can tell. Wiseman and screenwriter Danny McBride go to extraordinary lengths to embellish the backstory they created in the first one, with painstaking attempts at linking everything and avoiding obvious plotholes and continuity mistakes. Really, they spent a great deal of time on the script.

But so fucking what? It’s a stupid story anyway.

Rating:

Broken Flowers

dir: Jim Jarmusch
[img_assist|nid=949|title=Come on, you're better than this|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=338|height=500]
By all that is unholy, I haven’t disliked a film this much in ages.

It’s kind of refreshing. To actively dislike the vast majority of a film directed by someone whose films I’ve previously loved. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai is one of my favourite flicks. Down by Law, Stranger than Paradise and Dead Man aren’t too shabby either.

But what went wrong here? For me, Broken Flowers was a terrible experience. Outright terrible. Leaden pacing, coupled with flat, unpleasant characters, a vacuum of a central performance by Bill Murray, and a pointless plot that irritates and grates the longer it goes on.

Jarmusch is great at realising strange, mannered narratives in weird circumstances. In Broken Flowers it seems he is undone by what should have been a straight-forward dramatic story. Clods in the audience with me kept laughing at the least possible thing that happened, convinced that if they didn’t laugh other people in the audience would think they were stupid. No, laughing at something like you’re one of Pavlov’s dogs when you don’t have to, makes you look stupid. Or at least like a wanker.

Rating:

Pages

Subscribe to 2 stars