dir: The Wachowski Siblings and Tom Tykwer
There’s something so evocative for me about the sentence fragment ‘Cloud Atlas’. I’m serious, I’m not taking the piss. When I first heard it, and I can’t remember the context, whether it was in regards to the novel this movie is based on or not, I thought it was a poetic piece of brilliance. A juxtaposition of words so simple yet so meaningful/meaningless that I couldn’t help but love it.
Maybe it’s pretentious twaddle. I don’t know. All I know is that I love the name Cloud Atlas. Imagine such a thing; an atlas, whose purpose is to define and formalise exactly what is where in a landscape, yet of the clouds, of something ephemeral and ever-changing. Ironic juxtaposition of contradictory elements or what?
Everything I’ve said there is as much meaning as I ever derived, further on, once I actually read the book and then watched the film, at a much later stage.
The book? Eh. It had its moments.
The film? Well, that’s going to take me a bit longer to unravel.
I don’t think it’s a stretch, or at all unfair, to say that the film, as a film, is a total fucking disaster. I don’t think that’s overstating it at all. As a translation of a complex book to the screen, I swear they tried as hard or harder than anyone else could have, but the end result is a terrible waste of an audience’s time. If I had watched the film without reading the book, I wouldn’t have had a single fucking clue as to what was going on or what any of it meant. Even after having read the book and watched the screen version, I am clueless as to why they imagined audiences would thrill to this story, this interweaving of stories, this agglomerate vomiting of stores as is realised here.
Cloud Atlas, the book, has a nested narrative, comprising six stories that are tenuously linked. It starts with one story, which seems to end abruptly without resolution, then another story starts, then another then another, and so on. Each one is connected to the other, but then after the ‘last’ story, set way in the future, the recursive self-referencing reverses the order until the book finishes with the story it started with. It’s ultimately very well done stylistically, though I’m not entirely sure it succeeds thematically, and it has its own obstacles in the way of a reader really being able to see it as anything other than an experiment.
Cloud Atlas in filmic form explodes all the stories and pieces them together in a way that coldly stops any reasonable audience member from understanding why they bothered to make the film in the first place. I can think of dozens of reasons why they couldn’t follow the template of the book, but the way they’ve put it all together doesn’t help a thing.
It feels like, despite the linkages, despite the same actors playing multiple roles in all the stories, like you’re watching six separate films spliced together so that you rarely have time to appreciate what’s happening in one story before it’s interrupted by scenes from another one. Actually, it’s more accurate to describe it as the longest trailer for six films that you’ve watched only because you were flicking between six different cable channels at a time.
We like to think that, with enough love, time money and knowledge, we can make great things happen. The disinterested universe, however, just doesn’t work that way.
It would come as no surprise to anyone that knows anything about rap music, The RZA, or the Wu Tang Clan and its many offshoots, that he has a deep love and knowledge of classic Hong Kong martial arts flicks. Almost every Wu Tang (et al) song I can think of has a sample from an old kung fu movie, replete with poorly overdubbed dialogue and the sounds of people fighting.
A natural next step, you could argue, would be that a man who so wished he could insert himself into the past, into the movies he loves, the movies that consume his vision, his hopes and dreams, would try to make such a movie. And so we have The Man With the Iron Fists, starring RZA in a lead role.
In this he has endeavoured to make a movie like the movies he loves. Unfortunately, he is in the same position I am in.
Let me clarify: I love those movies too. I’d love to make one of those movies. I’d be terrible at it, though, because I have no idea how to direct a martial arts movie, let alone any movie. I don’t possess the skills necessary, or the hard-won experience required, and I wouldn’t magically possess them just because I’ve watched like a thousand of those flicks over the last 30 years.
They are not skills you pick up through osmosis, and I’ve never suffered from the delusion that just because I watch a lot of movies, wank on about them, and write reviews about them, that it somehow means I know how to make movies. Completely different prospects, they are. Just because I can tell the time looking at my watch doesn’t make me a watchmaker.
With all due respect to RZA, who clearly is passionate about these films, if he wanted to make a decent martial arts movie, he should have learned how to direct first. It’s rare to see something so poorly directed. Even the most average of films these days has at least competent set ups and coverage and the like. This makes Kevin Smith’s films look well directed.
The Man With the Iron Fists isn’t, despite what you might think, a satire or a parody of those flicks. It’s not an Edgar Wright-like Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz take on the genre, with references and in-jokes and such, or something like Black Dynamite, as in a contemporary piss-take on the Blaxploitation genre. It’s striving to be a faithful version of a Shaw Brothers flicks from the 1960s or 70s, and not a comment on it. What sets it apart is that it’s mostly in English (as opposed to being dubbed from Cantonese, though they might have played with that a bit), there’s RZA as the titular character, so he’s an African-American character in 19th Century China, and one of the main roles is played by Russell Crowe.
dir: John Hillcoat
*sigh* This is the biggest cinematic disappointment of the year thus far, for me. No, withhold your sympathy, spare me your proffered hankies, tiniest violins and empty consolation, neither I nor Lawless deserve it.
It’s meant to be a can’t-miss proposition, from the dudes who brought us, uh, The Proposition. Nick Cave wrote the script, John Hillcoat directs, quality soundtrack and score with the usual collaboration betwixt Cave and Warren Ellis, but with a whole bunch of other credible musicians as well doing their homages to the hillbilly moonshine era. There’s Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, and quality actresses Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain, and there’s extreme violence and nudity and redheads and ‘based on a true story’ cred and and and it all fucking falls over flat, because, I’m sorry to say this, but Nick Cave’s screenplay is absolutely the weakest element of it all.
See, lazier viewers / reviewers would say seriously / joke that it fails because of Shia LaBeouf playing a key role. I don’t think he sinks the flick at all. He doesn’t particularly save it either, but he’s not the one bringing the flick down. No-one else on this planet is going to agree with me, but I actually think he puts in a better performance than Beefcake of the Moment Tom Hardy.
They play moonshine-making brothers in Depression – Prohibition Era Virginia. They are the Bondurant brothers, Jack (the Beef), Forrest (Hardy), with middle brother Howard (Jason Clarke) completing the roster. They are making serious money, which of course attracts the worst kind of opportunists and entrepreneurs. Some corrupt, sexually ambiguous and very violent lawman (Guy Pearce) from Chicago comes to town to demand tribute from all the bootleggers, with backing from the Chicago mob, and bloody violence ensues.
dir: Colin Trevorrow
Sometimes I can’t see the plain things in front of me that other people can see. I don’t know whether it’s an eye problem, or some kind of neurological disorder, but, whatever it is, it means the virtues of this particular flick have completely eluded me.
The premise is that this vaguely has something to do with a classified ad that was put in a Seattle newspaper once upon a time, whereby someone pretended to be asking for someone in order to go time travelling together. Hence the Safety Not Guaranteed appellation, as in you couldn’t Guarantee someone’s Safety if they come with you into the Mesozoic era, but you still want someone to come with you, bringing their own weapons and expertise, and maybe a cut lunch. Sunscreen would be nice, and maybe a change of underwear.
That vaguest of premises has a basis in fact by only the loosest of definitions, in that someone once posted an ad like that. It was, however, a joke, as in a fake ad.
From this somehow they’ve spun a confection whose purpose, I guess, is to illuminate the gutting feeling many of us possess whereby we wish we could go back in time to correct something that happened or something horrible that we did. Yes, yes, we all have regrets. But this flick, not unusual in the cinematic landscape, makes literal this wish, in that we’re gradually meant to believe that the nutjob at the centre of the flick could actually do it.
To say that I was not on board with this premise from the start would be accurate. To say that I became less convinced of what the story was saying as it went on would be accurate as well. To say that I thought none of it worked, and that it built to an ending that was wholly unearned would be an understatement.
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an unpaid intern at a shitty Seattle magazine. Why a woman has a man’s name is never explained. Why this woman is an unpaid intern is easy to parse: she’s trying to enter journalism in this day and age. I mean, that’s the most foolish thing I’ve ever heard, someone trying to break into the dying medium of the media. I mean, everyone knows only the absolute best of the best, the brightest and the most dedicated need apply. Everyone else, like Darius, is just going to be there to get the coffees and the lunches.
dir: Rob Sitch
I really wanted to like it. I went in hoping it would be good. Support the local team and all that. My love for The Castle, The Dish, Front Line, The Late Show, The D-Gen before that knows no bounds. The Working Dog chaps are all kinds of all right in my book.
I never allowed for the possibility that this could be so… so very painful.
Any Questions For Ben? might have worked with anyone else as the lead. It might have worked with Idi Amin or Madonna or Yasser Arafat playing the main character. Anyone else possibly could have carried off the role. Probably not me, but then again, shy, awkward, pasty, chubby, cross-eyed me would probably have done a more convincing job than this guy. The Ben of the title (Josh Lawson) is completely unconvincing as a charismatic high achiever with the world on his plate, and he’s even more unconvincing when he starts to question the point of it all.
It seemed fairly obvious in the first few minutes that this was a yuppie redemption story, but, forgive me for focussing more on the form or style of the genre, but aren’t yuppie redemption stories meant to redeem the yuppies in question? So the usual character arc involves a) a smug arsehole who’s on top of the world until b) something happens which makes them realise what an arsehole they’ve been, and then they c) set about making amends for their past, so that they can move forward as a better person. And this flick basically supplies us with nothing beyond a).
Ben is a strategic brand manager or logo integrity specialist or some other collection of newspeak buzzwords. He bangs women whose names he can’t remember and has a great collection of friends (three), only two of whom seem like sentient beings. He changes girlfriends, jobs and apartments with disturbing regularity because he doesn’t like feeling bound down. He travels the world with his best mate Andy (Christian Clark) who is so fucking dumb they can never hold a conversation together.
dir: Timo Vuorensola
What the hell was all that about?
At first I was disappointed because I thought it was going to be a biography about actress Ione Skye, the 80s / 90s It Girl, daughter of folk singer Donovan, former wife of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, current wife of irritating Australian singer Ben Lee (!), star of such beloved classics as Say Anything and Gas Food Lodging, and mother to several hundred children. Surely that’s more important than Space Nazis?
But there is absolutely nothing about Ione Skye in Iron Sky. Iron Sky might have benefitted a little by including something about her, since it contained almost everything else in the known universe in its running time. Nothing about wavy-haired ingénues from another time, though, sad to say.
Instead it has a premise that’s pretty much the beginning and the end of the entire thinking behind the entire film that employed hundreds of people for several months: Nazis on the Moon. What else do you need when you’ve got such a ‘killer’ idea?
Apart from the premise, which isn’t as outlandish these days, since everything’s seemingly up for grabs, in fact it seems downright quaint in comparison to much of the filth that comes out these days, the movie (if such a descriptor is applicable) doesn’t have that much else going for it other than what I’m sure the people making it thought was satire. I can’t really imagine what else a flick would be trying to do if it has a lead character in it trying to portray a President Sarah Palin.
Sure, she’s not called Palin, she’s just called the President (as played by Australian actress Stephanie Paul), but it’s glowingly obvious. The glasses, the hairstyle, the Oval Office stuffed to the eaves with bear pelts and hunting trophies: it’s not grand subtlety we’re talking about here.
However, what you’re thinking, as an intelligent and highly sexually desirable reader of one of my reviews who hasn’t seen this and will never pay good money to see it (like I did, much to my regret, even with a membership discount at Cinema Nova), is this: what’s the point of Palin ailing and flailing here, and indeed the entire existence of this movie?
Nothing. There is no point, they just thought it would be funny.
dir: Stephen Daldry
This is the last of the nominees for Best Picture this year (well, at the 2012 Oscars scheduled for the 26th of Feb) that I have seen and reviewed, well, am reviewing right now. That’s the only reason I saw it, or at least endured its entire length without walking out, and the only reason I’m reviewing it is so I can at least have the tenuous justification for having an informed opinion about the worthiness of the flick that ends up winning.
And, at the very least, I can say that this flick should definitely not win.
At even very leaster, I can say that this flick should definitely not be watched by anyone, either.
I can’t say if it’s a faithful rendering of the book, because I’m never going to read the book that produced such an aggravating movie. An actively irritating, unsatisfying, unfulfilling, unenjoyable movie.
It’s safe to say that if it didn’t include a lot of footage of the World Trade Centre attacks, an abundance of footage and references and elegiac scenes of people falling, or the smoking towers, or the last (fabricated) words of someone about to die in one of the Towers, this flick would have never seen the light of day. I don’t think people can be casual or dismissive about September Eleven stuff yet, hence the nomination, but, goddamn is this flick unpleasant to spend time with.
Oskar (Thomas Horn) is possibly one of the most abrasively annoying kids to ever grace the silver screen. It was intentional. I think? It’s not made clear in the flick if he’s retarded, or autistic, or schizophrenic, but he occasionally displays all three. He tells a character that his father (Otm Shanks) once had him tested for Asperger’s, but that the tests proved inconclusive.
I find that… hard, to believe.
dir: Cameron Crowe
There’s this feeling that certain films and certain directors provoke that’s akin to having been in an embarrassing relationship with someone completely unsuitable in some dark alleyway of your past. Sure, at the time you thought they were wonderful and fun, but then you look back with the benefit of maturity and hindsight and think “what the fuck was I on?”
And it happens, mostly, when you see them in their current state, giving the world new examples of why they were always embarrassing, and why you should have known they were a disaster way back when. Sure, I really enjoyed Almost Famous, and sit through it whenever it pops up on one of the cable movie channels, but, really, I can’t believe I ever liked this man’s movies.
We Bought a Zoo actually has a story that I found interesting. A grieving widower called Benjamin (Matt Damon) decides to buy a zoo, to take his two kids out of the city and all that reminds him of his departed wife, to start afresh. Along the way he has to say a lot of things that would embarrass even those kinds of people you know who biologically seem not to have any capacity for shame. You know, politicians, pornstars, footballers: even they would be blushing with some of these execrable words given to them. Instead, you have Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson uttering this dolorous, dunderheaded dribble, which demeans us all individually and as a species.
This, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, interesting-sounding premise is then fed through a sequence of formula and cliché machines so mechanical and calculated in their efficiency that every moment that rolls along is broadcast well in advance and amped up in such a way that you start to hate the people you’re watching, and wish that bad things would happen to them both on and off screen.
dir: Ruben Fleischer
Getting Jesse Eisenberg and director Ruben Fleischer together again after Zombieland must have sounded like a good idea, since they did pretty well on their first time out. Inserting Aziz Ansari into the mix might have sounded good, because Aziz is pretty funny, whether as a stand-up or as a comedic actor.
But then someone somehow thought Danny McBride would improve things as well, and so we have 30 Minutes or Less: a mediocre flick so pointless and ineffable that the rage it could inspire doesn’t have time to coalesce before the film evaporates.
I’m telling you for free, Hollywood: Danny McBride improves nothing. Smearing shit on a Picasso doesn’t make it more valuable. Au contraire, fuckers.
Not that, oh no, don’t get me wrong, not that this flick would have been a Cubist masterpiece without McBride’s value-adds. No, it would still have been utterly pointless and forgettable. It just wouldn’t have been as annoying.
I have been accused a fair few times in my reviews of often focussing on other films instead of the one I’m actually trying to review, to the review’s detriment. I’ll cop to that, only because sometimes it’s more interesting to talk about those other flicks. Who wouldn’t rather be talking about Aliens instead of Cowboys and Aliens, or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter instead of The Lincoln Lawyer, or The Bride Wore Black instead of Bridesmaids?
Be that as it may, the review for 30 Minutes or Less is the place to talk about 30 Minutes or Less, and not the thousands of other better movies I could be discussing.
This flick is decidedly....meh. Jesse Eisenberg plays the same hyper-verbal emotionally leotarded young chap he always plays, and Aziz plays a guy who talks in a high-pitched whine a lot, but mostly they’re meant to be friends. And we’re meant to find them likable. Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play two other close friends, who are even more pathetic and painfully stupid than the first pair.
Wow, two dramaturgical dyads, mirroring each other for comparison and contrast. Hooray for us!
dir: Paul Feig
If this is the ‘female’ response to what is commonly and erroneously referred to as the Summer of Judd Apatow – raunchy comedies, then what the fuck was the question? I’m sure there are plenty of mouthbreathers who were wondering: “Shoot, what would a flick like The Hangover be like if it was all chicks? Yeah, and how do they get I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to taste like butter so much?”
The answer to both is not worth speaking, or hearing, really.
This isn’t really a raunchy comedy showcasing female comedic talent. Kristen Wiig as the lead, and Maya Rudolph have both been funny in stuff, and in far funnier films than this. The problem here is that, for a comedy, it’s not really that funny.
It’s far more of a low-stakes drama than anything else, because all of the impetus of the plot is about how shitty the main character feels because her best friend has some other friend. In other words, this groundbreaking and radical comedy is all about how bitchy, shallow, insecure and jealous women are.
It’s almost as if we live in a universe where the Sex and the City series and movies don’t exist. What a sweet universe that would be…
Also, what it’s not about is how fucking insane some otherwise sane women become when it comes to getting married. Instead of mocking or even deriding the wedding porn – Bridezilla mentality that’s becoming ever more prevalent even as I bloviate during this review, it celebrates it. Any misgivings it might have about the phenomenon, or the behaviour of the women in relation to wedding hysteria in general is diverted by the fact that all of the conflict comes down to a woman being jealous of another woman, whose shitty life then falls apart because of her jealousy.
What I find weirdest about all of this is that Kristen Wiig developed and co-wrote the script. So this funny, talented woman who’s been good in a bunch of flicks, far better than on Saturday Night Live, I’ll tell you that much for free, wanted this? She wanted to play this pathetic creature voluntarily? She created it?
It’s like watching Germaine Greer play Ally McBeal in an episode she wrote herself. Well, maybe not quite the same.
There’s less cursing and self-aggrandisement that there would have been with Germaine at the helm.
dir: Wes Craven
There doesn’t need to be a Scream 4. It doesn’t need to exist. Then again, you could argue that any number of things don’t need to exist, that do exist. Instant coffee. Pancake hotdogs. The Royal Family. Syphilitic chancres. Syphilitic Royals.
Scream 4 has as much right to exist as any other crappy flick trading on a franchise’s name to justify its own existence. Look, we live in a world where there are seven or eight Saw films, five Superman flicks. Hell, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants got a sequel. Alvin and the Chipmunks got a sequel, called The Squeakquel. People keep making them, people keep watching them, they keep making money, I keep reviewing them, and the Circle of Crapulence rolls on.
I watched Scream 4 with the same jaded eye that I watched any of the preceding flicks in the series. They’re all as good or as bad as each other (in that they’re all pretty crap, except perhaps for the first one, which was slightly less crap) and as such even a horror fan has difficulty differentiating them from any of the other flicks where people are killed in order of annoyingness over the course of 90 minutes, until one person survives, and the status of a sequel is left open in some way.
The very mild difference between these flicks and others in the slasher genre is that there isn’t a specific villain coming relentlessly back like an unkillable, profitable idea. Unlike Halloween, Friday the 13th or any other craptacular flick you care to mention, it’s not about a specific villain coming back to kill more people for the umpteenth time. It’s about some whole new bunch of morons getting dressed up in a very cumbersome Ghostface costume to kill a bunch of random people as a commentary on those other flicks where some cretin butchers a bunch of people you don’t care about.
See, it’s meta, therefore it’s cooler than the crap it’s referring to.
dir: Scott Cooper
I didn’t like this film. I don’t like Green Eggs and Ham, either, but the fact still remains that I really didn’t think Crazy Heart was a good flick at all. At all.
Even as I acknowledge that Jeff Bridges is a wonderful, wonderful man, and I’m happy to see him get an Academy Award for his services to the acting profession, it’s painfully obvious to me that he got it not for this performance, but because of his body of work.
You know, star turns in stuff like Star Man, Blown Away and How to Lose Friends and Alienate people.
Yes, he’s done great stuff in the past, but it’s hard seeing the character he plays here as being the pinnacle of his performances.
Bad Blake (Bridges) is a country singer / songwriter, who’s never hit the big time. He ekes out an existence playing shitty venues (most ironically, at film’s beginning, a bowling alley, considering The Big Lebowski) for booze money. We are given to understand that Bad could have been somebody, a contender even, if his alcoholism, boozing, drinking and pride hadn’t gotten in the way.
Because his songs, you know, are just awesome!
His version of a hardcore, 56-year-old drunk is someone who gets wicked hangovers and who throws up occasionally. None of the grim actual reality of people losing fights with lampposts, shitting and pissing themselves or ruined bodies and faces for this Oscar winner.
No, this is the audience-friendly version. As such, it shames me to say this, considering how much I love the man, the performance is coasting of the highest order. Anyone, any man at least or sufficiently butch woman, could have played this clichéd role, in a film so cliché I could predict (much to my partner’s irritation) everything that was going to happen, how and when.
dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
The dastardly Danish director of the Pusher trilogy and Bronson hits back at your tame and bourgeois sensibilities with the longest heavy metal film clip to a non-existent song that you’re never going to sit through. Ever.
Good goddamn is this a pointless, but nicely shot and atmospheric, film. And like a pointless and nicely shot film clip, when it only goes for three or four minutes, and has decent music, it can capture and maintain your interest. When it goes for 90 minutes, its impossible to feel like it wasn’t a colossal waste of your time.
One Eye (Mad Mikkelsen) is a one-eyed chap who kills anyone who gets close enough to him. Some bearded, dirty Viking types keep him captive, and occasionally let him out of a cage in order to have him fight and kill other guys in pointless contests out of which he always emerges bloody and victorious.
He eventually escapes by killing everyone except a boy who wasn’t too horrible to him. He hooks up with some Christians who want to go to the Holy Land.
They end up in the Americas. Almost everyone dies. The film ends.
That’s it, that’s everything. It takes 90 excruciating minutes to tell a tale that probably could have been told in a text message. One Eye doesn’t speak once, and in every scene in which he’s not killing people, he stands there mute.
Occasionally, as in a bad film clip, the screen goes all red, and One Eye gets some presentiment of the future, of something that’s going to happen. It’s usually accompanied by a screeching sound so off-putting that it’s meant to compound the fact that the flick is deliberately trying to be annoying. It works, too well.
dir: Jonathan Mostow
Huh? Is Bruce Willis so desperate for beer money that he’ll take practically any role in any piece de resistance of shit? He can’t possibly still owe Demi Moore alimony, can he?
The thing that’s weirdest about this flick is that I’m not entirely sure why it’s so weird. It’s weird in that it’s so brief, harmless and plastic. The plasticity of it all is part of the point, but it really does feel like half the film is missing somewhere, perhaps on either the editing suite’s floor or Bruce Willis’s bathroom, whichever.
It’s disturbing as well to see this strangely hilarious fantasy version of Bruce Willis, though I guess there’s some real reason for it.
This flick is a pointless and thinly-veiled allegory for the abdication of reality by pale, sweaty people who’ve ceased living real lives and who now live almost exclusively through the tubes of the internets. It’s utterly simplistic and, dare I say it, stupid, but even worse than that, there’s no real validity to the premise. It’s nonsense.
Set at some arbitrary time in the future, a new application of technology has resulted in the good people of America receding to the darkness of their own bedrooms, in order to send their consciousnesses forth into the world through robotic surrogates. All these surrogates are, of course, mostly young and hot looking. Except for the fact that there are no children, old people or ugly people around except for Bruce Willis, life mostly goes along like it always did.
dir: Stephen Sommers
Watching Transformers 2 and this here G.I. Joe flick in close proximity to each other brought something to the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t just the strange knowledge that both movies arise from a product, being toys, being Hasbro toys at that. It was the sad reality that, at least for American audiences, film is what they now have to make up for a lack of a cultural mythology.
Sure, the US has a long and proud history, with all sorts of tall tales and Delaware Crossings, Fort Sumpters, Alamos, Granadas, Last Stands and Flags raised on Iwo Jima, but it’s not the same thing compared to the ancient myths and legends of other cultures, which, the more pretentious throughout history, whether writers or philosophers or people with real jobs, will tell you represent a deep cultural connection to the subconscious.
Instead what we now all have are films that basically explain or reinvent the origins of toys. The toys aren’t the adjunct, the alternative marketing stream, the subsidiary merchandising as such. They ARE the product, the emblem, the totem, and the films essentially pretend to market the toys themselves.
So if you wondered as to why The Baroness is called The Baroness, or why Cobra is called Cobra, or who Snake Eyes is, or who or what a Destro is, then you can watch the film, and then buy the toys, or even go home and marvel at the rich and impressive backstory that the toys you already possess have.
Aren’t you grateful to have had the veil of ignorance torn away from your eyes?
The characters in this flick are toys, and they have the motivations of toys. This is a strange action flick based on a property of next to no relevance to the current era, revamped and redone so that it looks like the world the makers of The Thunderbirds were looking forward to.
The performances are quite funny. I’m not sure if it’s always intended, but they routinely made me laugh. Out loud. I rarely laugh out loud watching movies, but this time it happened quite often and quite loudly.
The only person I really feel sorry for out of all of this is Dennis Quaid. Quaid has been a decent actor for decades, and has again and again triumphed over adversity. Married to Meg Ryan? He rose over that obstacle. Has Randy Quaid as a brother? He worked through his pain and delivered again and again. Seeing him here hurts my heart.
I guess we can’t call them the Wachowski Brothers anymore, since technically they’re not both brothers anymore. Allow me to illuminate your confusion with an explanation, one of the few times where one of my more obscure references can actually be explained in a sane way that might make sense to another human being.
When they made Bound and the Matrix trilogy, two chaps sharing the name Wachowski were responsible as the directors. Now, as in as of a year or two ago, one of them is still a Brother Wachowski, and the other, thanks to the type of surgery that in Australia is still colloquially referred to as the “cruellest cut of all”, one of them has undergone gender reassignment surgery to become a Sister Wachowski.
Strange, I know, but don’t for a moment feel that I’m impugning the lifestyle choices of people who I believe have every right to do whatever the hell they want as long as they’re not hurting other people. He / She can do whatever the heck they want with their pink bits, surgery-wise or otherwise as long as it doesn’t involve my pink bits.
dir: Zack Snyder
A lot of people get their panties in a bunch because of the descriptor usually applied to Zack Snyder, either by reviewers or the marketing people marketing his movies: “From the mind of visionary director Zack Snyder…” goes the line on the poster.
They (the collective ‘they’) got sick of always applying the term to Tim Burton, so now they have someone else to pin it to like a badge of dishonour.
I think it’s an adjective that’s appropriate. At least as far as it applies to lots and lots and lots of visionary visuals, he’s got them pouring out from every diseased orifice.
Directors, or at least the cinematographers and programmers the studios hire, are all about the visuals. Getting the look right is their main task, you’d think, it being an entirely visual medium. If he was producing radio plays I’d say he was a failure, but that’s just my opinion.
What Snyder clearly isn’t about, is writing or that pesky acting stuff. I’m sure he’s capable of possibly getting decent performances from humans, but he seems to do much better with computer generated graphics instead. So I guess it’s unfortunate that there are so many people standing around messing up his effects shots in Sucker Punch.
Sucker Punch is a very strange and pointless flick. It’s not strange that Snyder could get it made, since his stock seems strangely to keep rising for reasons not immediately obvious. Sure, a lot of people wanked openly over 300 in every sense of the word, but he’s not exactly an unalloyed success as a director. Mostly, people have him rightly pegged as a director more focussed on flashy visuals more so than rudimentary storytelling.
dir: Richard Kelly
This is not a good movie. It’s not even mediocre. It’s just incompetent.
It’s not as utterly godawful at his last awful foray into moviemaking, which was the truly dire Southland Tales, but whilst it’s not as asinine, it’s not much better. It’s staggeringly not much better.
Richard Kelly came to prominence with Donnie Darko, and since then has been squandering whatever goodwill the flick engendered with a much too forgiving audience. Honestly, these other films he’s been making are so eye-rottingly rotten that it makes me think Donnie Darko was a fluke, a goddamn fluke.
Maybe the elements that he was able to put together coherently the first time have never been able to coalesce since then. I know this is a review of his latest shitfest The Box, but bear with me for a second: I think you can see the seeds of his failure even back in Donnie Darko, by comparing the theatrical cut with his director’s cut.
That’s what it comes down to: Kelly doesn’t know how to edit his own flicks. Of course, the companies hire editors to actually edit the films, but the directors (and often producers) can end up sitting in at every stage to ensure their singular ‘vision’ gets carried through.
dir: Hideo Nakata
The onslaught of Japanese horror remakes marches inexorably on. Strictly speaking this is a sequel to a remake, but there’s a Japanese Ringu 2, and it was directed by the same guy that directed this, but it’s a different story (kinda) and, oh fuck it, it’s making my head hurt already. Look, it’s a sequel to the Hollywood Ring film, that’s all you need to know at this stage. It has nothing to do with the Lord of the Rings movies, The Ringmaster, Postman Always Rings Twice, Ring of Fire, Ring King, Ring Ring, or Ring-a-Ding Ding. So don’t be too disappointed.
This nasty little ghost story has come a long way from its modest origins as a schlocky novel by Koji Suzuki. The original Ring managed to be creepy and somewhat fairly entertaining. It represents the starting point for the wholesale adoption of these flicks as the new face of cinematic horror, with highly variable results. Of the recent sequence, Ring, Ju-on: The Grudge and Dark Water have been remade, with Dark Water yet to be vomited upon cinema screens yet. Presumably The Grudge will get its sequel. It seems there’s a little way to go before people get thoroughly sick of this crap and move onto the next place to plunder “Ooh, look, Mongolian films are the next big thing. Let the milking commence!”
dir: Tom Tykwer
What the fuck happened to the guy who made Run Lola Run?
Here’s your answer: He’s making shitty, ludicrous flicks that sap the will to live of any audience anywhere.
The International is fucking unbelievable. It is a Bourne Identity – Supremacy flick without Jason Bourne or Matt Damon, but, perversely, with Clive Owen, who was in the first Bourne flick anyway. Recursive much?
So imagine: someone wants to make a Bourne flick but can’t afford Matt Damon. Who’s next on the list, oh, we can’t afford them, how about, no, further down, okay, Clive Owen and Naomi Watts? Brilliant.
And of course you need some German people in it, so why not hire German hot stud superstar Armin Mueller-Stahl, who’s 80 if he’s a day over 16?
Sole direction given to Clive Owen in this: “Um, act the way you did in Children of Men, but don’t run around as much.”
Clive Owen roles can be divided successfully into two groups: the ones where he has stubble, and overacts wildly, and the once where he’s clean shaven, and doesn’t overact as much. This role is clearly one of the former rather than the latter.
Naomi Watts doesn’t really have any differentiation between roles, and strides around with “concern” face the entire time here. Is she credible as a district attorney trying to bring down one of the biggest banks in the world? Maybe, if her plan is to wear them down by asking them continuously to make monthly donations to Amnesty International whilst on the street corner outside their headquarters.
dir: Richard Curtis
It’s getting to the stage where hearing that Richard Curtis, the genius behind such pop cultural fodder as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the diabolical Love, Actually, which actually opens and closes with long montages of people hugging. Hugging, honest to fucking gods…
No, I haven’t forgotten what other stuff Richard Curtis was involved with back in the day, like actually funny stuff, like the various Blackadders and maybe even the Vicar of Dibley. But that was mostly as a writer, as a writer of gags. Humorous asides and witty banter. Funny, mildly amusing stuff.
Then he wisely, from the perspective of making more money, started directing the monstrosities he was writing the scripts for on numerous post-it notes while drunk out of his skull. And thus a directorial legend was born.
Now he inflicts these awful goddamn flicks on us which have too many characters, most of which are little different from each other, with sequences that connect little to the ones preceding and following, and which exude an overall stench of desperation that never hides the fact that he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing, but hopes the editing, popular songs and cheeky swearing can hide the fact.
The Boat that Rocked, or Pirate Radio as it was briefly known when it was released in the States, is another in a long line of pointless Richard Curtis vehicles that’s nowhere near as funny or coherent as Richard Curtis thinks it is, or as funny or as coherent as Richard Curtis thinks Richard Curtis is.
dir: Seijun Suzuki
I’ve watched this flick twice and I still haven’t got a fucking clue what happened. Forgive me for the language, since this is a family show. And as a father I really should be more circumspect in my choice of language. But honestly, for fuck’s sake, this flick is insane.
dir: Tim Burton
Even though it's been out for only two weeks, already the topic of this film is straining to raise even the mildest level of interest anywhere. We get gangbanged by the hype regarding new films leading up to their release, they're released, then everyone collectively reaches over and hits the snooze button. Being ever timely in my responses, now that any interest has pretty much waned, I have seen fit to post a review of Tim Burton's latest coke fueled extravaganza.
Tim Burton's only real mistake was in remaking what is usually referred to as a "classic". He should have remade a different classic, that being Planet of the Gapes, originally directed by Tom Byron, starring himself, Allysin Chaines, Alisha Klass, Sabrina Johnson and a host of other starlets and studs. I have not the courage or the mortal fortitude to tell you readers what a "gape" is, suffice to say it is one of at least a hundred things I wish I'd never seen, and curse the internet each day for inflicting it upon me.
Regardless, the mere concept of doing a remake of Planet of the Apes is enough to raise people's hackles, and as appealing to long time fans as it would be to announce to Christians that you're planning on re-writing the Bible, replacing all references to "God" and "Jesus" with "My Cock". They'd love that.
dir: Antoine Fuqua
Could have been. This flick could have been a contender. It is well acted (mostly), well directed, and with one monumental example to the contrary, mostly well scripted. It is deeply unfortunate that the monumental fuck-up that occurs in the script at about the 1 hour mark renders the rest of the film an exercise in pointlessness, but then again, if life has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t have everything, and even if you did, some bastard would probably break in and steal all your shit when you were at work.
It’s the way of the world. None of this justifies the awful and insulting way that the film degenerates into a true Hollywood morass by its end, but hell, as I’ve mentioned a million times before, most films stuff up the ending because they never put as much work into the conclusion as they do with the pitch:
(pitch meeting between producers and studio execs)
“Um, Denzel as the bad guy?”
The premise alone is supposed to be enough to justify our interest: Denzel overacting all through the film playing a badass cop. That they weave some strands regarding ethics and the morality of police work into it would seem to be an additional, intellectually enjoyable level upon which the film could have worked. That they piss it all away by insulting our intelligence with a plot conceit so shameless that it would make M. Night Shyamalan blush means the only reason the film will ever be remembered will be because of the sympathy Oscar Denzel Washington received for his overrated performance, and not for any particular virtue of the film.
dir: Lee Tamahori
There. That feeling you had in your chest. Hadn't you noticed it before? Did you think it was just that you're getting really unfit and unhealthy? Or that maybe you had tuberculosis? No, that wasn't it.
That's it. Breath out. See, what happened was, you were waiting with bated breath for my next movie review.
And what will it be: a review of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, where I kept getting funny looks from the parents who'd brought their kids along, who were wondering what a 30 year old man was doing watching a kiddies film sans kiddies? Will it be a review from an advanced screening of The Two Towers, where 700 nerds were on the verge of premature ejaculation for nearly 3 hours?
No, it's a review of the 20th sequel to a very, very tired franchise which like its title suggests, will not die any time soon.
It doesn't take a genius or an audience member from the Jerry Springer show to grasp the attraction behind the Bond phenomena: International jet setting British superspy gets to save the world on a regular basis, kills people that piss him off, fucks every woman that crosses his path within minutes of meeting them,
plays with the most supercool gadgets, and gets to cheat death every ten minutes always with an awful pun at his disposal to mark the occasion. Best of all he doesn't have to ever see again eiither of the two obligatory woman he shags per film, as one of them generally turns evil necessitating the added bonus of
getting to kill one of them. Talk about a fear of commitment.