dir: Darren Lynn Bousman
This movie is fucking awful. I can’t sugarcoat it, I don’t have some other witty or vaguely amusing way to intro this review or to prepare the prospective viewer. This flick is terrible from beginning to end. But don’t think for a second that it’s consistently terrible, or that it maintains a steady tone of terribleness throughout. It starts off bad and keeps getting increasingly shittier and more nonsensical as it wears you down and just makes you want to die.
If you were ever a fan of these movies, you’re going to doubt your own judgement after watching this piece of abject shite. You are, or at least should be, wondering just how dumb you might be for ever having defended them to anyone.
Oh my good gods does it stink. It is horribly directed, the editing is irritating and confusing, the acting is shitty, the dialogue and script are atrocious and it just looks and plays out like something cobbled together from the collected deleted scenes from the other three movies in the Saw franchise.
dir: Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip
I never thought that Jet Li, at this advanced stage of his career, could surprise me in a positive way. No-one in this world, regardless or sometimes because of their age, stops finding ways to surprise me negatively. But I was surprised here by Jet Li’s dramatic chops, which hasn’t occurred once in the twenty years I’ve been watching his flicks.
He’s always been a tremendous fighter onscreen, and good enough playing his usual, stoic, heroic roles in the wuxia (martial arts) flicks. But he’s often been quite terrible whenever he tries to do anything dramatic or comedic or tragic or acting in general.
This lack of acting ability has never stood in the way of his career, because his arse-kicking ability is so incredibly amazing. Amongst his peers he’s par for the course, but with age comes, if not wisdom, at least an appreciation for looking like you have the emotions and stuff the director is telling you to have.
Right from the start it’s obvious that this is a very different film for Jet Li. He’s in his forties, and still looks amazing fucking people up, but he’s been doing this stuff since he was a kid. He wants to do more dramatic work, less fighting, but they won’t let him play Hamlet, the cruel masters of Chinese-Hong Kong cinema that they are. Bastards.
The compromise is to have him play Qing-Yun, a forlorn general during the twilight of the Qing Dynasty (during the reign of fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi), when China is riven by civil war as the Taiping rebels rebel all over the place. The general has emotions and stuff, all of which Li’s tired face is better able to convey these days, I guess just because he’s finally lost that perpetual babyface look of his. Still hope for you after all, Leonardo DiCaprio.
dir: Catherine Breillat
I swore off ever sitting through and enduring one of Breillat’s films ever again several years ago, but a free preview ticket pulled me back in to her loathsome cinematic world. Also, reviews saying this was nothing like her earlier monstrosities sucked me in as well.
Her flicks Romance and Anatomie de l’enfer (Anatomy of Hell) convinced me not only that I shouldn’t watch any future films of hers, but that I never wanted to watch any films ever again. Unfortunately for you, like all my other promises and heartfelt vows, this one fell apart swiftly after. I relented, I gave in, because the prospect of watching one of her excruciating films proved too tantalising to me.
Une Vieille Maîtresse is Breillat’s first foray into period piece filmmaking, whereby she’s also working on a screenplay adapted from the novel by Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly. It is set just after, we are told several times, the era of Choderlos de Laclos and Dangerous Liaisons. The only characters old enough to remember the libertine excesses of those days are now themselves too old to be cavorting around themselves. But they remember enough of those licentious times to be able to counsel the next generations.
dir: Gregory Hoblit
I went in expecting one thing; what I got was completely different.
I was expecting a movie that would be passably entertaining. What I got was a lazy court room / legal drama that was marginally less interesting than the average episode of Murder, She Wrote.
Ah, Angela Lansbury. They just poured her into that old biddy outfit.
Godsdamnit, that’s going to replace the ninjas in my nightmares. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Murder, She Wrote, or Diagnosis: Murder or Matlock, but they do serve a purpose: a light confection designed to present a puzzle and solve it just after the last ad break, with everything tied up in a neat little package.
Personally, I was always a bit more of a Columbo fan. Watching Peter Falk and his glass eye shuffle around and causing the murderer to go berserk with ever-escalating levels of frustration was a joy to behold. By the time they’d get to the end of the episode, you knew Columbo knew the bugger or buggette was guilty right from the start: he just needed enough time to figure it out for himself, or to wait for the guilty sod to trip him or herself up.
dir: Edgar Wright
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and probably a whole bunch of other people, try to do to the buddy cop genre what they did to the zombie genre in Shaun of the Dead. If you saw and liked Shaun, then you know what to expect.
If you hated Shaun, then you probably haven’t got a hope in hell of getting anything out of this here flick.
Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is an extremely driven cop who is so good at his job with the metropolitan police that they transfer him out to the boondocks because he makes the rest of them look bad. When he gets to the sleepy, quiet town, he discovers that there’s more going on than meets the eye.
The locals are the expected group of quirky hicks you’d expect from a British flick of such a nature, populating the place with some characters that wouldn’t be out of place in a show like Ballykissangel, Monarch of the Glen or Doctor Martin, and some who you only find in the shows and flicks made by Edgar Wright. Once on the town beat, the police chief’s chubby, somewhat simple son Danny (Nick Frost) latches onto him and makes him the wind beneath his wings. What follows is one and a half hours of set up, and twenty minutes of utterly over the top gun action which would deafen John Woo himself.
dir: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Will Ferrell as an ice figure skater? That’s the comedy cinematic equivalent of crack cocaine, isn’t it?
The people who made the film probably sold it to the company with a text message to an executive saying exactly that: “w/about Ferrell on ice?” with probably a few smiley faces and LOLs thrown in for good measure.
The entire movie is predicated on the impression that ice skating is both gay in the sense that ‘gay’ is sometimes used as a synonym for lame, and gay in the sense that it is a sport best enjoyed by and participated in by gay people. So of course Ferrell plays his character of Chazz Michael Michaels as a rampantly hetero alcoholic sex addict lothario who never actually gets laid. And of course there are lots of scenes where men have to uncomfortably hold another man’s genitals either in their hands or close to their faces in order to win something important. What’s funnier than another man’s gonads being waved in your face?
dir: Shane Abbess
It’s one thing to admire the scrappy, underdog determination it takes for someone with no track record as a filmmaker to pull together the financing for a flick and then film it, their way, making up for the paucity of their resources with innovation, creative thinking and inspired finagling and wangling.
That’s admirable. But it’s another thing entirely to actually enjoy the end product of such a scenario.
So I admire the best efforts of the people involved with this, but that didn’t make it any less painful to sit through.
Gabriel is an excruciatingly bad fantasy film within the subgenre of fantasy which has angels and demons as protagonists. There was a trilogy of low budget movies a while ago called The Prophecy with ascending numerals, no less, and they essentially told the same story.
One of the big differences is that those flicks had Christopher Walken in all three of them. Sure, they were crap films, but you can never underestimate the appeal of that lunatic in any film.
dir: Zack Snyder
It’s history as the backstory for a deliciously violent computer game. Games with a solid backstory
are always more enjoyable; it makes the slashing and dismemberment all the more entertaining and meaningful.
See, there was a Battle of Thermopylae. And there were 300 Spartans who fought and died in
battle against a much larger army of Persians. But I doubt any of it looked as pretty as this.
The Spartans, proudly led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), are incredibly handsome and ridiculously
buff. They are noble, strong, resolutely heterosexual, fearless and fabulous in their leather codpieces.
The Persians are sexually ambiguous, freakish, have tattoos and multiple piercings, and are inhuman
dir: Wes Anderson
Quirkfest abounds. So much goddamn quirk that it’s fair dripping from the screen. But what would you expect from a Wes Anderson flick?
Every goddamn flick the guy’s made has been so quirky and idiosyncratic that, by now, you know if you can tolerate any of his new flicks based on whether you’ve tolerated any of his other flicks.
Of course, then there’s the fact that some of his flicks are less tolerable than others, even when you like them.
I have liked some of his flicks, and hated some of them, so: flip a coin, guess how I went with this one.
I was not a fan of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, despite the fact that every Anderson film is the same, and some, like The Life Aquatic, are more the same than others. So I approached The Darjeeling Limited with ample trepidation.
This flick, thankfully, is less bad and more enjoyable than Life Aquatic. The reason is that it’s not as aggressively annoying as the former film, and it doesn’t have a character as rampantly annoying as Bill Murray was in that film.
dir: Antoine Fuqua
It feels a bit wrong reviewing a film called Shooter considering what just happened in the States a little while ago at Virginia Tech, where 32 people lost their lives at the hands of a crazed, but utterly calm gunman. However, in this courageous ‘reviewer’ caper, you have to occasionally suck it up, as they say, and get on with the job. Be a trooper, soldier on through, above and beyond the call of duty.
Because as awful as that mass slaying must be for all those people who lost loved ones, and for those who lost people they kind of didn’t mind, and for those people who had people who they couldn’t stand cruelly and violently taken from them: it’s just as hard on those of us who have to hear about it.
It’s at moments like these that entertainment becomes most crucial: It’s time to laugh again. So why shouldn’t people go and see a film where a cool, calm guy with a gun kills a shitload of people?
I can’t think of a single reason why not. This is a proudly American film about an American hero taking on the corrupt American system in the only way an American (at least on film, certainly not in reality) deals with conflict: by shooting lots of people. The Way of the Gun indeed.
dir: Gavin Hood
Rendition is, yes, another one of those recent films tagged “political” by those reluctant to be drawn into the culture wars (which is, usually, most people) but eager to dismiss something with the least amount of effort required.
Just in case you thought movies don’t mean squat unless they’re based on something true, Rendition is based on the ordeal of Khaled el-Masri, a German national of Kuwaiti descent, who was taken from the Serbian-Macedonian border and held and beaten in prison in Afghanistan for five months in 2004.
And then released when they figured out that it was Khaled AL-Masri that they were looking for in the first place. Because if they’d beaten that guy for five months, it would have been all right.
The title refers to the use of the term rendition, or extreme rendition, as applied to the manner in which the CIA can decide some people with potential information or contacts in the terrorist community can be snatched up and disappeared as if they never existed. Then, once they’re wearing a headbag, they’re whisked away to a country where foreigners can torture them for information. See, America doesn’t do torture. But if someone else wants to do it for them, well, why the hell not? It would be the height of ingratitude to not take advantage of their hospitality and flexible positions on human rights.
When the person who’s kidnapped and tortured is just a stinking foreigner goatherding their way through their family-less and friendless lives, then it’s not an issue worthy of being brought to our notice. But when the guy is a fully fledged America lover with a pregnant blonde wife (Reese Witherspoon) and a son called Jeremy, then it’s really a crying shame and a travesty when the guy is kidnapped and tortured for his suspected terrorist links.
I’m not sure exactly where most of this story transpires apart from the Washington and Chicago bits, but it’s North Africa at the very least. Morocco, Tunisia, probably not Algeria, but it hardly matters. It’s a place where there are lots of Arab speakers and Muslims living in hot and dusty climes. Which are, as we know, a recipe for two things: fundamentalist terrorists and forbidden love.
dir: Chris Weitz
The hardest obstacle faced by any new fantasy film that comes out now is that it has to distinguish itself from the Harry Potter series and the Lord of the Rings movies to be taken seriously. That is, if the actual intention is to distinguish itself, instead of aping them and going out of the way to remind you of the similarities to cut down on the marketing budget.
Why craft a campaign around celebrating the best aspects of your brand new potential film trilogy when all you have to say is “It’s just like Harry Potter hanging out with Frodo in Narnia! We’ll even use some of the same actors just to remind you, you stupid muggles!”
If no distinction is entertained or sought, then you can dismiss these flicks to straight-to-DVD hell and brand them little more than a cheap Rings/Potter knock-offs, and go back to sleeping comfortably. Night-night baby.
The great difficulty faced by this film specifically is that the story stands in stark contrast to material like that of the Harry Potter franchise or, more aptly, the Narnia tales, but has been rendered into a form most calculated to remind people of, say, the Narnia and Potter franchises. Ah, familiarity and the contentment / contempt that it brings.
dir: Bruce A. Adams
How smart are you? I mean, obviously you’re reasonably smart, since you’re reading one of my reviews. But how smart are you, you super genius Poindexter?
Sure, you’re smart, but are you serial killer smart? Are you as brilliant as the serial killers Hollywood routinely serves up to us, the duped masses, on a regular basis? It’s unlikely, I would say, that any of us is that smart. It’s even more possible that no-one is that smart in reality that isn’t strapped into a chair, using a computer voice synthesiser to communicate with the rest of the world.
Stephen Hawking would be the ultimate serial killer, you’d have to think, based on flicks like the Hannibal Lecter franchise, and this here nasty, clever flick Mr Brooks. Hawking grasps the structure and infinite complexity of the universe like few others can, and, if he’d had better luck in the physical genetic stakes, would probably be stalking the globe with a bloody knife in his hand and a trail of bodies behind him.
dir: Mark Steven Johnson
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.
dir: Sam Raimi
You know, I'm ashamed to admit this, but maybe George Lucas was right. Lucas delighted the no-talent shlubs who write the entertainment gossip columns by announcing that, in his lofty opinion, Spider-Man 3 was 'silly'. I ridiculed him for it, pointing out that the man who gave the world Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks and nancy-boy Anakin Skywalker was in no position to be telling other people their films are silly.
Thing is, though, he might be right. Just because Lucas is a shitheel doesn't mean his opinion in this instance is wrong. And just as his spite might be motivated by jealousy over the massive juggernaut that is the Spider-Man franchise, which has eclipsed his own 6 instalment
franchise in terms of box office power, he still might be right.
dir: Joe Carnahan
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.
dir: Darren Ashton
You could argue that making a mockumentary about stage mothers and their poor, put-upon children is a bit redundant, since you can’t satirise something that is already such a horrible reflection on humanity from the start. You can’t satirise a satire: it’d be like satirising Yes, Minister or parodying The Simpsons.
Or maybe you can, I’m not sure. Maybe anything is fair game.
Though I have no proof for this bollocksy assertion, I like to think that this flick’s origins were initiated by the last part of Little Miss Sunshine, which focused on a beauty pageant for 8-year-old girls. That was a hideous and insightful peak into the mentality of parents who make their children look like Las Vegas showgirls in order to live through and profit by them.
dir: Billy Ray
Finally, a flick still playing in Melbourne cinemas, at least for the next day or two, that I can review for the hungry, hungry masses. Hungry for something that isn’t the third part in a series, perhaps. Pirates of Shrek’s Silver Spider Phoenix, Um, Three?
Do you know who Robert Hanssen is? Do you care about the single most hideous security breach in the history of the FBI that didn’t involve J. Edgar Hoover’s frilly underwear? Do you have the patience to watch a low-key, flat story about a deeply troubled individual whose surface hid terrible turmoil beneath told within the trappings of a bureaucratic thriller? No one gets shot with a silencer, no one gets stabbed with a poison tipped umbrella, no radioactive Polonium was used or harmed in the making of this movie. So you’ve been warned.
dir: Peter Webber
Hannibal Lecter: The Wonder Years, or Look Who’s Stalking could have been better titles for this new prequel chapter to the Hannibal Lecter legend. Did you wonder what Hannibal was like as a child? How was his toilet training conducted? At knifepoint? Did mummsy and daddsy punish him for wetting his bed by ripping out his liver and feeding it to him with a mediocre Chianti and some azuki beans as an accompaniment?
All Hannibal Rising is and ever will be, is another trip to the well for fun and profit. The makers, especially ancient Dino De Laurentis, have confused the popularity of Thomas Harris’s initial books (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs), and the iconic status of Sir Anthony Hopkin’s portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence, with an unquenchable thirst in the audience for anything with a hint of Lecter-related marketing attached to it.
dir: David Silverman
Well it’s about bloody time. The series has only been running for 18 years. So grateful should we be that they took the time to put together a cinematic version of the popular television animated series. Because, you know, there aren’t enough movies to watch as it is.
The Simpsons Movie arrives in a form that is unsurprising, with a running time of what three episodes would be like run back to back, with no profoundly earthshaking or universe-altering message. It has plenty of chuckles in it, doesn’t vary from the known Simpsons universe that much, and delivers exactly what long term fans would expect.
dir: Judd Apatow
The advertising for this was brilliant. There were variations, of course, but their main theme was along the lines of just what a loser Seth Rogen looks like, and how unlucky any woman would be to fall pregnant because of his drunken thrustings.
The ads literally had pictures of Rogen’s goofy, almost apologetic face, with the phrase “what if this guy got you pregnant?’ or variations thereof plastered across them worldwide. Marketing genius; pure marketing genius.
Considering the fact that Rogen wrote most of the screenplay (or whatever you call the process that eventuated in this film), it’s something of an odd but extremely successful sell. In the real world, attractive women have sex with slobs all the time. And we thank you for it. But in the Hollywood film world, it’s seen as something of a gross anomaly, or at least enough of one to justify such a premise. Like some major disruption in the space time continuum, or a tear in the fabric of reality.
dir: David Yates
Betterer and betterer…
Order of the Phoenix is probably the best of the Harry Potter films thus far, but that seems kind of redundant to point out. The story itself, of a young wizard, his friends and allies, and the evil arrayed against them, and the author herself have been improving over time. The story is getting more complicated, deeper and richer, and, as such, it is getting harder and harder for me to maintain my disdain for the books and the people who wank on about them all the time.
As with the more recent flicks, they just go straight into it, with no shilly-shallying about. There’s plenty of references to happenings and characters from the previous films/books, but not in the sense of summarising the whole premise for the clueless coming in. It’s assumed that if your bum’s on the theatre seat, you know everything that’s transpired over the course of the story, or at least have some idea.
dir: Michael Katleman
How do you solve a problem like Maria? On that same tack, how do you fuck up a cheap movie about a giant crocodile chomping on people and making their heads pop like grapes? Ask these shmucks.
It should be impossible to stuff something like that up. Just deliver what you say you’re going to deliver, and the audience should take care of itself, as it lolls about stuffing its gaping maw with candy and popcorn as if to mimic the CGI reptile on the screen.
dir: Danny Boyle
Decent, actual science fiction movies are few and far between, so when word started spreading that Danny Boyle, he of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later fame (and Life Less Ordinary and The Beach infamy) had made a serious sci fi flick, I was curious.
Most flicks use sci fi elements purely to propel a flick that’s mostly just an action/comedy/horror movie. It’s all fine and dandy to imagine what a society full of robots would be like in the future, but let’s not pretend the driving concept behind a flick where someone is fighting hundreds of robots makes it an existential exploration of the idea of artificial intelligence. Why would you bother with that when it’s far more fun to watch Will Smith get slapped around by a robot/alien/grandmother?
dir: Paul Greengrass
Jason Bourne gets the job done.
If you sent him to the supermarket, he would power through the aisles, hip-and-shouldering other customers out of the way, strategically rolling cans of kidney beans under the feet of pensioners and somersaulting over the shelves in his single-minded determination to get to the cat food before anyone can stop him. During his manic dash towards the checkout counter, he would be plotting intercept vectors and ambush choke points whilst mentally calculating the savings he’s making versus the current cost of 1400 other brands of cat food that he memorised prior to entering the store.
If anyone got in his way during his exit strategy towards the carpark, he’d kill them, probably with the cat food, even if it was in those soft foil sachets. The cat food would be unharmed and still tasty when he force-fed it to your cat using a funnel and some improvised explosives.