dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
Wow, the lives of drug dealers just seem so glamorous, don’t they? If I’ve learnt anything from watching this Pusher trilogy of film set in Copenhagen, it’s that: a) Copenhagen is situated somewhere in one of the uglier, more downmarket circles of hell, at least if you’re involved in the drug trade, which, considering the course of these three films, any sane Dane would be, and b) even those successful enough in the trade lead miserable lives.
These flicks were never meant to be after school specials frightening people away from drugs out of moralistic concern or tut-tutting for some sort of public service announcement. No, mostly they seem like they’re trying to say that really bad things happen to selfish, stupid and violent people, especially if they get involved in the drug trade.
The first Pusher followed the highs and lows of Frankie, a low-level scumbag who is unremittingly awful to everyone around him. Bad things ensue. The second Pusher focussed on Frankie’s sidekick Tonny, and all his comical misadventures, and launched, surprisingly enough, Mads Mikkelsen to international superstardom, to the point where he gets roles in big budget fare like Casino Royale and the recent Clash of the Titans remake. I mean, every teenage girl and boy has got a Mads poster on their wall these days, don’t they? Out with old man Johnnie Depp, in with Mikkelsen!
Not that you really want to highlight that element on your resume.
In those two films, Milo (Zlatko Buric), played a key but small role, as an affable but monstrous mid level drug dealer, whose gently-spoken recommendations that protagonists deliver upon their obligations never obscured his frightening propensity for having people brutally tortured and executed.
dir: Christopher Nolan
I have to say, I’m starting to get sick of all this superhero shit. The names and stars change, the settings and villains, but it’s the same shit in a different bucket every time a new one comes out.
With fairly low expectations I ventured onward and upward to check this out, being mindful of the exuberant reviews that paint this as being the bestest superhero flick ever made. I have to say, I just can’t see what they’re seeing. To me Batman Begins is just another generic superhero film, only slightly lamer than the others that have been coming out lately.
Sure, it’s better than the other four movies directed by old spookykid Tim Burton and uberhack Joel Schumacher, but they were pretty crappy anyway. Batman & Robin was the acknowledged nadir of the franchise, but for my money it was just as lame and cringeworthy as any of the other flicks.
Admittedly, I don’t really have an affinity for the character in any of his incarnations. I never read the comic books, either the Bob Kane originals or the Frank Miller Dark Knight stuff. I watched the campy television series with Adam West and Burt Ward but hated the way that they kept stretching out the stories with cliffhanger endings, where there was never any resolution to anything that went on. There’s only so many times that a criminal mastermind can escape from jail or an asylum and continue committing the same loopy crimes every week before even the most benevolent and humanitarian crime fighter / police commissioner snaps and decides to kill them with their bare hands. Lord knows it had that effect on me.
dir: Tommy Lee Jones
Films that don’t immediately jump themselves into a recognisable pigeonhole already have a point or two in their favour, for my money. When films follow formula, I tend to start evaluating the film along the lines of its adherence to or variance from the formula. Whatever happens on screen filters through to me with that lens in use.
When I don’t get what the formula is, or the obvious destination point, I’m already more interested than usual. Because such a scenario makes me wonder what is going to happen next, as opposed to generally being able to predict it.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is not a great film. It has some great scenery, gorgeous cinematography, and some interesting characters. Its greatest advantage is that it has a script by Guillermo Arriaga.
Arriaga usually collaborates with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, so you may be familiar with his work in the form of Amores Perros and 21 Grams, both films I have a lot of time for.
Three Burials has a more linear plot, though it does have significant unannounced flashbacks confusing the viewer every now and then. In connection to the other flicks, it has all its characters wallow about in a mess, dealing with issues of moral complexity, personal failure and redemption.
dir: James Mangold
Johnny Cash. The Man in Black. An icon and a music legend. Contemporary of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, and a stack of others, influenced by and influential to them all. Could a two and a half hour film do him and his life justice? Can Joaquin Phoenix and the toothsome Reese Witherspoon do the story of the Big Big Love between Cash and June Carter justice? Or even get close?
Someone as simultaneously recognisable and mysterious as Cash needs a twenty hour film about his life. With a squillion dollar budget, all the CGI in the world, and the best actors and production people alive or dead (resurrected) to work on it. It would need a director who combines the spirit and ability of Leni Reifenstahl, Sergei Eisenstein, Otto Preminger, Carl Dreyer, John Ford, John Huston, Akira Kurosawa and Jean Renoir to get it right. It would need the greatest actors culled from history, put into a blender until gooey, with their DNA spliced and respliced until the mixture was just right, re-coded up into the greatest actor possible, which would then be discarded anyway in favour of a resurrected, young, vital, dangerous Johnny Cash to play the lead.
Clearly such a collaboration and combination of events will never happen anywhere apart from in my fevered, amphetamine-fuelled imagination. Such is life. Long ago, whilst working as a scullery maid for a cruel mistress, I’d realised life for me was going to be a perpetual sequence of disappointments punctuated with mere moments of mirthless pleasure. So I’m not surprised that this film doesn’t meet the meagre criteria I magnanimously set forth for it.
That doesn’t make it any the lesser. For what it is, Walk the Line is an enjoyable and competent enough film. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny, and Witherspoon as June Carter put in decent performances. But the film is still a superficial look at the Man’s life, hobbled by the same problems that neuter most biopics about musical, genre-straddling legends.
dir: Mike Mills
Another coming of age story. Another coming of age story about an oddball teenager in high school. Another coming of age story about an oddball teenager in high school who tries to find a way to fit in for most of the film, and only realises at the end that the important thing is to be yourself.
Yes, being your fucking self is the solution to all of life’s problems. Because there aren’t enough arseholes being themselves out there fucking shit up for the rest of us. There aren’t enough of us who are ourselves, which is where all our problems come from in the first place.
As if the world hasn’t had enough of these monstrosities lumbered onto it already. In the last few years I can think of a multitude of flicks with a similar premise (though substantially different execution). Enough already. Napoleon Darko Holden Caufield has left the building.
So. Thumbsucker is a minor, pleasant flick about a 17 year old called Justin (Lou Pucci) who still sucks his thumb. He doesn’t know why he does it, his parents are embarrassed by it, and for Justin it is the cherry on top of a seething mess of teenage neurotic confusions. Which is little different from the lives of most teenagers, minus the thumbsucking, I guess.
dir: Liev Schreiber
A film can be crafted with care, and attention. It can be visually arresting, thematically complex, and cover intense, powerful events. It can have decent acting performances, and a literate script with a non-conventional narrative and a story that is anything but formulaic. And it can still do nothing for me.
I’ve heard tell that Jonathan Safran Foer is a good writer, and I have no real reason to dispute that until I read at least a few of his books. There are already plenty of books on my to-be-read list, so it might be a while before I get to him. All I can say is that the screenplay, based on his book of the same name, is interesting.
The film, directed by Liev Schreiber, just doesn’t grab me. I’ve watched it twice now, and it just doesn’t grab me at all. I watch it at a cold remove, distanced from what happens even as I contemplate what is going on.
The protagonist, played by Elijah Wood, is a deliberately ambiguous character. He is a pretty repressed kind of guy, with one suit of clothing, slicked down hair and a pair of glasses whose lenses magnify his eyes to the point of enormity. He may be the protagonist, but he doesn’t do or say too much.
The narrator and the protagonist are not the same person. The narrator, ever-present with his little explanations and elaborations, comes into it down the track.
The protagonist’s name is Jonathan Safran Foer. He collects stuff. We see him as a child popping odd things into snap-seal plastic bags, with a little note on their provenance. As an adult he has a huge wall of stuff, from the seemingly important to the banal. It is not valuable things that he collects: they seem almost random in their qualities and importance.
dir: Yoji Shimomura
Easily the dumbest and most worthless flick I’ve seen in a Japanese donkey’s age. Run, don’t walk to not hire a copy from your local Blockburster. Be excited, be be excited.
A review like this is more of a warning for people to not make the mistake of hiring something or soiling their eyeballs by watching if they’re unlucky enough to be caught on a couch when the remote’s broken and they’re forced to watch it on television. Just keep your eyes closed, even when they start bleeding. It’ll be easier that way.
dir: Mary Harron
It's a crime that it's taken this flick so long to get distribution in Australia, because this really contained probably the best performance by an actress in a film released in 2006. Sure, there's no way Gretchen Mol could have beat the murderous juggernaut that was Helen Mirren, but she deserved some recognition at least. It's only been released here yesterday (8/3/2007), and will probably have an ignominious two-week run before disappearing into DVD obscurity.
Which isn't the worst fate in the world. It's kind of appropriate, considering the subject matter. And what is the subject? Why, it's the notorious Bettie Page, of course!
Bettie Page, for her time, was probably the main lust object and idealised non-attainable masturbation aid for squillions of men, lonely and otherwise, across America. She has probably been responsible for more shameful, furtive, blind-making male orgasms than Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe and the Virgin Mary combined.
But practically no-one could tell you anything about her apart from the fact that she was in millions of smutty, smutty pictures.
She's not a real person: she is an icon. An icon loses its origins and enters the realm of the purely symbolic at the point where the line between the source and the image disappears. All you can glean is in the expression on the face, the stance used to playfully hold the whip, with nothing else as background. As symbol, not person, she comes to symbolise a pure, perversely innocent sexuality to the masses.
Even when she was decked out in the most cumbersome and painful fetish wear on the planet, there was something about her which will make her memorable long after Anna Nicole Smith's breast implants have finally broken down in her grave. Which should be thousands of years from now.
As the film alludes to with the title, sure, she was infamous, but none of the jerk-offs jerking off to her knew anything about her. You can't really call the 50s an innocent time, but it's not like nudity, smut imagery or boobies were invented then. But it was a strange time where the normally Puritanical States was still trying to stem the tide in terms of what the US would become: the biggest producer and consumer of smut in the world. USA! USA! USA!
dir: Costa Gavras
Veteran Greek agitator/director Costa-Gavras directs a Spanish guy playing a French family guy who’s just trying to get by in the corporate world by killing people all over Europe. How European Union of him.
The downside of the whole EU thing is that with cross border barriers to work having faded, people now compete with a whole new bunch of equally qualified shmos across that once great continent. The other downside being that downsizing naturally follows the increased globalisation of the European labour market. And thus multiple killings ensue.
You may think I’m speaking metaphorically or ironically, but you’d be mistaken. You’d be even more mistaken than I was when I voluntarily chose to watch this flick. The murderous climb up the corporate ladder constructed entirely of corpses is literal in this case.
You see, when our main character, played by Jose Garcia, was made redundant from his job a while ago, he thought nothing of it. A generous severance package and being highly qualified let him think the world was his oyster just aching to be taken. But a year and a half of job hunting has humiliated him to such an extent that he cannot countenance any other course of action apart from murder.
dir: Jeff Feuerzeig
Documentaries are great for finding the true stories behind people known for something they did or something they were. Documentaries are also great at illuminating the stories of people for whom obscurity and anonymity would have been a blessing.
Firmly, firmly within the tradition of doco subjects such as Robert Crumb and his insane brothers in Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb, the eccentric mother and daughter of Albert Maysle’s Grey Gardens and the indulgent, excruciating self-laceration of Jonathan Caoutte’s Tarnation, The Devil and Daniel Johnston reveals the life and times of an absolute nutter.
Daniel Johnston enjoyed a certain kind of notoriety in the late 80s-early 90s when too-cool hipsters and try-hards like Sonic Youth and the shmucks from Nirvana raised him to public consciousness. Of course he was oh-so-famous in his home town and around his family, but this virtually unknown singer-songwriter became famous mostly because he is crazy.
He started off with promise, of some kind that I can’t really figure out, but degenerated into the darkest pit of manic-impressive madness. He was obsessed entirely with music and becoming a famous musician, but never really seemed to achieve the goal of learning how to actually write or play music properly.
dir: Joseph Castelo
You have to wonder what the last thing is to go through the mind of a person who has decided not only to kill themselves, but to take a whole heap of other people with them. I’m not talking about the rapidly expanding shockwave, or shrapnel, or their belt buckle as it is propelled upwards and outwards.
I mean the justifications they have been given, or that they give themselves for their actions. A thief justifies their actions based on their selfish need, or the worthiness of the victim for being made so: i.e. the shop or house I’m robbing has insurance, they make shitloads of money anyway, they deserve it etc. A suicide bomber does what, exactly? Justifies their crime by blaming the victims? Blames the regime, the powers that be, the Jews, the universe at large for its unfairness, God, a God, the Gods, Allah, Buddha, the Giant Flying Spaghetti Monster?
dir: Michael Winterbottom
The film is exactly 69 minutes long. It consists of a smattering of banal dialogue between two people, they also do some drugs, squabble a bit, and they go to some great gigs. They also fuck. They fuck a lot. The weird thing is, they really are having sex. We see it in all its messy glory.
This isn’t meant to be a porn film. And it’s not a porn film, really. Most porn films have better production values. But their soundtracks usually aren’t this enjoyable. And they don’t usually have scenes from actual gigs at Brixton Academy, the Forum, Hammersmith Odeon, or the Empire in between the sex scenes.
I’ve used this gag many times in my reviews and conversations with people about films, where I say stuff like, “By Lucifer’s beard, the plot of that film was so bad that even porn films have better and more coherent plots”. Now I’m going to officially retire that gag and never use it again. I realised that porn films haven’t had plots for years, and anyone that watches them thinks “What the fuck you talkin’ about, Willis?” whenever I say it in a review.
See, I come from a naïve, innocent time, when “actors” like Christy Canyon, Ginger Lynn and John Holmes would chew over some pretty cheesy and sometimes funny dialogue in between getting down and dirty. Porn films these days, from what I gather, predominately have people going at it like coked-up steel rabbits, with barely any time for an introduction or so much as a “how’s your father?”. It’s a production line mentality. Economies of scale. More bang for your buck.
Even then, even then, and this is the last time I’m ever going to use this gag, contemporary porn films have more of a plot than 9 Songs does. Pool boys, mechanics, pizza delivery guys, nurses, sexy secretaries; they’re all entirely absent from here. Which is a shame. I think the film could have done with some characterisation. Some depth.
dir: Greg McLean
When was the last decent Australian horror film released? When was there ever a decent Australian horror film?
Wolf Creek isn’t just the best Australian horror film, it’s one of the best horror films since the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It is Australia’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
It should have come out twenty years ago.
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: Gavin Hood
Every year, when Oscar time rolls around, the category at the Academy Awards that I find the most bewildering and amusing is the category for Best Foreign Picture.
It presupposes at least two ideas: that the majority of the films in consideration for the rest of the categories are predominantly going to be American films (which they are), and that in the Foreign category, every other film produced by every other director from every other country apart from the US competes for the Great Golden Dildo.
You are already muttering under your breath “Who the fuck cares, the results at the Oscars matter to me about as much as the results of your last blood test.” And I agree, sure they don’t matter. But it interests me all the same.
The Academy, in the depths of its wisdom, has the sheer fucking gall to assert each year that it has sampled the delights of every other film put out by every country capable of producing them, and can select one to stand above and beyond all the others.
dir: Brian W. Cook
Don’t, whatever you do, mistake this flick for a biography of the great Colossus of the cinema that was Stanley ‘Grumpy Pants’ Kubrick.
No, John Malkovich plays the unbelievable role of a crazy conman who used to tell people he was Stanley Kubrick, despite the fact that he looked nothing like him, didn’t try to sound like him, and didn’t even know what films Kubrick directed.
He is so bad at impersonating him that it becomes more a reflection on the people who get sucked in rather than an example of his skills as a charlatan. It is both their gullibility and their simplemindedness in the face of potential celebrity that renders them ripe for the picking.
Of course, the other element that favoured Alan Conway’s deceptions was the fact that Kubrick himself was a bit of a recluse, and there weren’t many photos of him in common circulation. Looking at the extravagant lengths to which Conway virtually begs to be caught out makes you wonder just how gullible people are out there.
This little film is directed by someone who actually knew and had worked with Kubrick in the past, which means he is eminently unqualified to make a film about a flimflammer he never met. But at least he can ensure Malkovich looks and acts nothing like Kubrick to make the illusion complete.
dir: Stanley Tong
Jackie Chan films are, by and large, pretty silly. The Myth is even sillier than most, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely unentertaining. Is there such a word? That’s it, I’m copywriting it.
Who cares, either way. The Myth is a silly but not unentertaining film about two guys in two different time periods played by Jackie. Let’s fact it, even Jackie’s best films are pretty silly. And here, paired with the same director who made Rumble in the Bronx and the appalling First Strike, this flick happily resides somewhere in the middle.
I love Jackie Chan. It’s impossible not to love him. Anyone who doesn’t love him barely retain the tattered remnants of a soul that makes them human. He’s just so lovable, like puppies, like cute little babies, like panda cubs.
That’s not the same thing as saying that a) he’s a great actor, or b) most of his films are good. Most of his films are crap. Really, really crap. So crap that they make you want to gouge your eyes out and those of the people sitting next to you. And the longer his career has gone on, the more crap his films have generally become. Of course, he’s been in 97 movies, so it’s not surprising that most of them are shite.
dir: Sydney Pollock
Friends making documentaries about friends sounds like mutual masturbation, but it can work, if you’re into that sort of thing. Your interest level in this movie is pretty much dictated by whether you can enjoy a doco about a famous architect who has designed some pretty kooky buildings. Or not. My guess is that a lot of eyes glaze over before you even finish saying the word architectu….zzzzz
Can you really imagine something as staggeringly dull as a doco about an architect? Unless it’s the architect of the Third Reich, Albert Speer, maybe, or the architect of some badly negligent buildings that fall down and kill people. Otherwise it’s a date with dullsville, you’d be forced to think. Well, force yourself to think a little more, ya deadbeat.
Frank Gehry has architected up some pretty freaky looking buildings. Even if his name doesn’t ring any of your bells, you’ve probably seen images of his crazy constructions all the same. I can’t pretend I knew anything about the guy beyond images of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, that I’d seen, and the kooky episode of The Simpsons where Gehry guest stars and designs a new building for Springfield that gets turned into a surrealist prison. Snitch 4 Life indeed.
Further to that, the great man designs the building by scrunching up a piece of paper that becomes the blueprint for the whole shemozzle. Anyone who’s ever seen one of his buildings knows how arbitrarily chaotic they look, and through this doco they can see the inspired process he and his crew go through to get to the magical final design.
It’s very light, very easy-going, and Pollock and Gehry, old friends from way back, chat like old friends rather than as interviewer and subject. This isn’t a confrontational doco attacking the guy and his treatment of prostitutes, or his hundreds of illegitimate syphilitic children, or rampant drug use and multiple arrests. It’s not that kind of doco.
dir: Jim Jarmusch
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.
Each year there are nincompoops who'll say it was the worst year in film ever, and each year they'll be wrong. The worst year in terms of cinema was the day Jim Carrey started acting, but other than that,
every year since and after has had plenty of decent stuff to watch, whether it's homegrown, from the States or from the more obscure heathen corners of the world. And for someone like me whose main hobby
dir: Jean Francois Richet
I wouldn’t have thought that a remake of a John Carpenter classic could have worked, but it has. Let’s face it, it’s a good thing that Carpenter himself wasn’t involved, because everything he’s touched in the last decade has turned to shit. Although, now that I think of it, he did already remake Assault on Precinct 13. Except he called it Ghosts of Mars, and we all know how well that turned out.
This is good stuff, though. It’s never going to have as many fans as the 70s classic, and I’m sure many people are going to avoid it like it’s a stinky nappy in a swimming pool just because it’s a remake. But they’d be missing out on a decent B movie if they did.
This isn’t a life-changing experience; it isn’t visual poetry or Dostoevsky debating the Dalai Lama and Deborah Harry whilst covered in baby oil and wrestling at the same time. It’s an action movie where a bunch of people are trying to kill another bunch of people, and the ones that are going to survive are the ones who want it the most. It doesn’t wuss out on the violence, and maintains a relentless, dark tone throughout.
dir: David Cronenberg
Two men casually prepare to leave a fleabag motel in the morning. They are unhurried, a little drowsy, probably thinking about the long drive ahead. We don’t sense that there’s anything wrong until everything is so wrong that even I was surprised by their brutality.
In the next scene, a father comforts his daughter, who’s had nightmares about monsters in her closet. He keeps telling her repeatedly that monsters don’t exist, despite our recent evidence to the contrary. It is so overplayed that you know it’s not meant to just be foreshadowing. It’s meant to be Ironic.
There are monsters out there, but they’re not always the ones we expect them to be.
David Cronenberg, Canadian auteur and primary exponent of the ‘body horror’ genre, makes films too infrequently for my liking. All of his films, including the ones that don’t entirely work, are worth watching, His weakest films are better and more interesting than the best work most other directors are capable of.
Here he’s gone with the premise that seems like the most simple, or the ‘straightest’ of the films throughout his career. The complexity could be solely what we are projecting onto the screen, because the film lends itself to multiple interpretations and subtexts. But I think it’s a credit to his work that it can go in so many directions with such a solid yet familiar concept.
It’s Smalltown, USA. A peaceful place with quiet, decent people. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is one of these quiet, decent people. He runs a diner in this town, pays his taxes, loves his wife and kids, and is lucky enough to have his attractive wife (Maria Bello) dress up in her cheerleader outfit and perform 69ers on him.
dir: Francis Lawrence
There used to be a time, back in the distant reaches of the 90s when everyone knew that Keanu Reeves sucked as an actor but didn’t care. Girlies thought he was cute, and guys thought he was funny in Point Break and Speed, but no-one thought he was much of an actor. Then he starred in a little film called The Matrix, and some people started to take him seriously.
God knows why, since Kanooie’s success in that film was more a matter of him not being allowed to give the world his version of ‘acting’, standing in the right place with the right clothes on, and being an adequate support for the designer sunglasses that he was a prop for. Only for him does a wooden performance actually represent a step up in the acting stakes. In other words, by not always sucking completely in every single film he convinced us that maybe he didn’t suck.
So in coming to a new Kanooie film, you don’t ask ‘Was he good?’, you ask yourself instead ‘Did he not suck too badly?’
Honestly, my man Kanooie has given some of the suckiest performances of the last twenty years. How about playing John ‘I’ve been chased by bloody wolves’ Harker in Bram Coppola’s Dracula? Or confusedly playing the character an entire religion is based on in Bertolucci’s execrable Little Buddha? The crappily acted Southern lawyer in Devil’s Advocate? Or the awful, truly awful title character in Johnnie Mnemonic? Or the nut-punchingly bad dancing serial killer in The Watcher? These, my friends, are performances for the ages, a legacy to live on and be mocked for centuries to come.
dir: Tim Burton
When I heard the film was going to be remade, I had a sick feeling in my gut. When I heard Tim Burton would be the one helming it, that sick feeling grew to full blown, explosive nausea.
Maybe it was the hangover, maybe it was the dodgy curry. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. But I can say that see the finished product was a decent cure.
It is a good film. It’s not great, but then having seen the original a few weeks ago as well, neither is that one. Johnny Depp is no Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, but then again clearly no-one wanted him to be.
Instead of going down the track of trying to replicate that experience, Burton has done to this what he mercilessly did to Planet of the Apes: he’s “re-imagined” the character of Willy Wonka. Instead of being a mysterious Wizard of Oz type, eccentric aristocratic figure such as in the book and (to a lesser extent) in the first film, here Wonka is just an out-and-out freak.
Much has been made in the press of the idea that Wonka as played by the deathless and ageless Depp is reminiscent of Michael Jackson and Peter Lorre (the bug-eyed German actor from such classics as M, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon). There’s none of the former and more of the latter, in my estimation.
Depp does play Wonka as a freak, someone with no social skills, who hasn’t progressed beyond the oral stage of development, or puberty, for that matter, and who is a chocolate maker who hates his primary market: children. The kids in the film, naturally all loathsome except for Charlie (Freddie Highmore), all clearly hate Wonka as well. They are there out of greed and have nothing but sneers and contempt for Wonka.
And so they should. If you saw this guy offering your kid any candy, you’d beat him to death with the nearest Oompa Loompa. There is a significant story-based reason why such a difference has been made in the script.
It’s because he doesn’t have a loving family, you see. Orphans, hearken to Tim Burton’s word. He is here to heal the pain.
dir: Bennett Miller
This flick wins my Academy Award, my giant, golden, suggestively-designed Oscar, for the most overrated flick and performance of 2005. There, I said it. And I’m not taking it back.
Reports from the film festivals were saying Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a lock on the Best Actor award months before the film was ever released, and who am I to argue. But, come on. Be serious.
In anticipation of seeing the film, I did a fair bit of homework. I read Capote’s book In Cold Blood, so I’d know what all the fuss was about. I also watched the excellent B&W film of the same name from 1967, directed by Richard Brooks, where, irony of ironies, Robert Blake played one of the killers.
So I was ready. Prepared. Primed. To be bored out of my fucking skull, it turns out.
The flick fails as a biography of Truman Capote because it’s annoying in its simplistic rendition of who he was and what motivated him, what meant anything to him apart from fame, and only covers the relevant years in a frustrating and empty manner. Sure, he was a preening, simpering queen who could turn a phrase and charm a lounge room with his anecdotes, but I can’t see from this flick why In Cold Blood captured America’s attention when they’d soon forgotten about the murders that inspired it, and why it started the reading public’s insatiable desire for true crime novels.