You are here

2006

Snakes on a Plane

dir: David R. Ellis
[img_assist|nid=820|title=There's the plane. There's the snake. And there's Samuel L. Jackson. Happy now?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=390|height=293]
Of all the flicks that came out in 2006, this was by far the most pointless. That’s not the same as saying it was the worst. There were far worse films in that and every other year. It’s just that few of them managed to be this superfluous.

Do you ever think about how some films get made, or why, which is probably more relevant? In the main it’s easy to assume that the reason why any film gets made is for the money. Movie-making is a money-making enterprise; that goes without saying, which seems redundant since I just said it. But why the producers and studios decided to try to make money out of Snakes On a Plane is a mystery that only P.T. Barnum could explain to me.

I can’t figure out anything on that score past someone trying to profit from underestimating the stupidity of the movie-going public.

I mean, look at the title. Snakes on a Plane. What do you think the flick is about? Strawberry harvesters in the hilly regions of Provence just before WWII? A geisha’s coming of age during the Tokugawa Shogunate? Crop circles in Nebraska; the impact of divorce on a middle class Midwestern family; someone finding redemption by singing duets with benevolent green aliens found hiding in one’s underwear?

Rating:

Macbeth

dir: Geoffrey Wright
[img_assist|nid=821|title=This is Macbeth as a poncey emo wannabe gangster. Shakespeare would be so proud.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=428]
With the last 20 or so murders that occurred in during the so-called Melbourne Underworld war, I guess it seemed like a good idea to combine the Shakespeare play about ruthless ambition and the crime pages of the daily newspapers. A natural alliance, like whisky and baby formula, or dope and speed.

They decide to play it fairly straight, despite the contemporary and Melbournian setting, and keep the language as the Bard would have liked it. So the dialogue hasn’t been made modern with people saying ‘like’ or ‘whatever’ all the time.

Macbeth (Sam Worthington) loyal to mobster king Duncan (Gary Sweet), oversees something like a drug deal gone wrong that results in lots of dead Asians. Victorious, Macbeth is commended by the king and seems like he’s on top of the world.

Whilst taking drugs, he sees three jailbait redhead witches, who tell him he will be king.

Rating:

Crank

dir: Mark Neveldine and Mark Taylor
[img_assist|nid=822|title=Crank: films by meth addicts for meth addicts|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=358|height=509]
Crank is an aggressively adrenalin-fuelled odyssey in the day of one lunatic in LA. This bad day for professional killer Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is courtesy of being murdered by criminal rival Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo).

He’s pretty loud and violent for a dead guy. Verona has given him a Chinese poison called the Beijing Cocktail which attacks the heart of its victim. If Chelios’s body doesn’t produce enough adrenalin to keep his heart rate up, he dies. He’s like the bus in Speed that can’t slow down or it will blow up.

The next 80 or so minutes are essentially Chelios doing two things: staying alive via keeping his adrenalin as high as possible, and tracking down Verona to get revenge before dying.

Yes, it’s as incoherent and stupid as it sounds. Actually, I made it sound linear and sensible, thus I’ve failed to encompass the true stupidity of what is on offer.

To keep his adrenals pumping, he commits robberies, gets into fights with large groups of black guys, uses cocaine, drinks heaps of caffeine drinks, takes on the cops, performs some idiotic stunts on a motorcycle, and fucks his deeply stupid girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) in full view of a large crowd in Chinatown in broad daylight.

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:

Letters from Iwo Jima

dir: Clint Eastwood
[img_assist|nid=828|title=Oh, those saintly Japanese soldiers and their deep regard for human life|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=397]
Eastwood capped off his epic filmmaking adventure about the Battle of Iwo Jima with this here sensitive, thoughtful engaging and sad portrayal of the battle from the Japanese side of things that managed to be everything Flags of Our Fathers wasn’t.

Letters from Iwo Jima follows a group of Japanese soldiers stationed on the pestilential island led by General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), who know that their chance of winning is nil, and their only purpose is twofold: to delay the inevitable invasion of Japan by American forces, and to die honourably in battle (or die trying).

As such, considering the easy knowledge of the outcome, considering as well the fact that the earlier film focussed on the iconic shot of the flag raising by American forces, this isn’t a triumphant exercise in pro-war jingoism (then again, neither was Flags).

Rating:

Harsh Times

dir: David Ayer
[img_assist|nid=826|title=Christian Bale going after a cinematographer again|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=365|height=243]
This was touted as a kind of follow-up to Training Day, since it had the same writer involved, now graduating to the big leagues by taking on directorial duties as well. Hoo-fucking-ray. And since we were told it would be a sequel to that horribly scripted film with incredible performances, we could look forward to more of the same.

Denzel got the Oscar for Training Day, but I don’t think Harsh Times is going to win any awards, despite having exactly the same quantity of overacting in it. Substitute Christian Bale in place of Denzel, and make him a returned Ranger veteran with post traumatic stress disorder instead of being a nasty, corrupt cop, and you have Harsh Times, set on the mean streets of San Andreas. I mean, Los Angeles.

Rating:

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

dir: Dito Montiel
[img_assist|nid=827|title=The saints can't help you if you watch this movie. But they will hate you.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=669]
This is a film by Dito Montiel, about the life of Dito Montiel, based on the book written by Dito Montiel. Wow, this Dito Montiel is some kind of wonderful guy to want to bring Dito Montiel to the attention of millions, isn’t he?

After all, Dito Montiel won the Nobel Peace prize for solving the Sonny and Cher crisis back in the 70s, and also won the Nobel Physics prize for inventing the tubes that power the internet. He cured all cancer, discovered the clitoris and came up with a tasty breakfast cereal high in fibre but low in sugar to boot.

If it wasn’t for those obviously fabricated highlights of Dito Montiel’s life that I just made up, we wouldn’t have any clue why we’re watching a film about Dito Montiel’s life. Having watched the film, I still have to ask myself why anyone is supposed to give a good goddamn about the fucker.

Dito, played by Shia LaBeouf in the 80s, and Robert Downey Jr in the 2000s, hasn’t really done anything worthy of note that I can figure out apart from write a book about himself and having directed a film about himself. These are achievements, don’t get me wrong, I just can’t for the life of me see what in his life justified such endeavours or why we should be interested.

Rating:

Hollywoodland

dir: Allen Coulter
[img_assist|nid=830|title=Hollywoodland. Bad things happened there, apparently|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=269|height=400]
There must be, somewhere, someone who was desperate to find out about the fate of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on tv before most of us were born. Hasn’t it been keeping you up at night? “George, George, what happened to you, you bright, shining star?”: isn’t that how you cry yourself to sleep each night?

Maybe he was mentioned around the time when Christopher Reeves, who played the cinematic incarnation of the Man of Steel, snapped his unsteely spine or when he died. The Superman Curse, people intoned in hushed voices. The hubris of playing a guy who is invulnerable calls down the anger of the gods to punish the idolater, in the same way that playing Jesus tends to crap out most actors careers. Just ask Jim Caviezel.

Who? It doesn’t matter. This is, after all, about a different fantasy character that we’re talking about.

I have a dim recollection of the show being played on telly when I was a kid. Black and white, initially, but then again, the telly was a black and white one anyway. The Richard Donner Superman movie had already come out as well, so watching the tv serial was anachronistic even then. It was like watching something from vaudeville, from the visual Stone Age. That’s where it derived its charm from, at least for me.

Rating:

Running Scared

dir: Wayne Kramer
[img_assist|nid=831|title=Who dares call me a bad actor while I'm holding a gun, eh?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=337|height=500]
Running Scared is two hours long, and over the course of those two hours it tries to ensure that at least some element will offend everyone. It is loud, extremely violent, profane, visually aggressive and completely over the top. It is thus, for me, a very entertaining film.

It also has an entertaining performance by Paul Walker, which I never thought were words I would ever write down in a review. As an actor I’ve generally considered him to be the acting equivalent of elevator music, though now that I’ve used that phrase, I’m trying to recall the last time I heard elevator music. I don’t think it’s been in the last fifteen years, so there could be an entire confused generation of people who’ve never heard of elevator music (or muzak, as it used to be known), and are now despondent and heartbroken. For that I am truly sorry.

Rating:

2:37

dir: Murali K. Thalluri
[img_assist|nid=832|title=It's only a matter of being utterly contrived|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=280|height=400]
2:37 was the super-secret opening film at the 2006 Melbourne International Film Festival, launched to a super eager sold out crowd (in more ways than one), who would go on to create unwarranted buzz for a mediocre flick that gives after school specials a bad name. Controversy, which is always supposed to be able to sell tickets, and hysterical press releases from NGOs like the depression experts Beyond Blue, also made this flick seem more important than it really was. And now, what are we left with in the wash up, the aftermath, the hangover on the day after?

As a young director, a very young director at that, Thalluri manages not only to cobble together a Frankenstein-style script from other marginally better movies, but also manages to get crap performances from most of the actors playing ciphers instead of characters throughout the movie. Practically none of the characters, who are given a selection of clichés to work down to, seem to exist as anything apart from mannequins.

Rating:

Pages

Subscribe to 2006