(Kataude mashin garu)
dir: Noboru Iguchi
I’m starting to get the knack of this current crop of Japanese violence-fests. It’s not a complicated equation: Ham acting, cheap effects, both physical and computer-generated, and thousands and thousands of litres of fake blood.
I’ve watched a bunch of these flicks lately, and they really look like what they are: cheap movies made by special effects guys who know more about how to put together a prosthetic body they’re planning on cutting into multiple pieces with blood spraying out of it every which way, rather than coming up with a script that makes any sense.
Not that it matters.
I’m getting to the stage where I’m starting to be able to enjoy them. I’m not sure if I’ve figured out whether they’re action flicks, comedies or horror flicks, or a curiously Japanese blend of the three. Whatever the actual genre is, is irrelevant, I guess. All that matters is whether I’m entertained or not.
And I was entertained by this flick, significantly so, compared to the last Fever Dream production that I saw, being Tokyo Gore Police. Or maybe what’s happening is that I’m becoming desensitised to the level of gore, the sheer crazy magnitude of gore on display.
I don’t think so, though. When these flicks are done right (no matter how cheaply or shoddily), they get the tone right, which makes it at least tolerable, at best enjoyable. Some people are not going to be able to accept a flick where two high school kids are bullied to death, but if you can’t laugh at the mother of one of the bullies attacking our heroine Ami (Minase Yashiro) and trying to turn her arm into tempura with a maniacal glint in her eye, then I can’t help you much.
dir: Yoshihiro Nishimura
This flick is like watching a squirrel twitch balls-deep in a bag of acorns for two hours.
Because it’s fucking nuts.
I guess I haven’t watched a lot of Japanese flicks for a while, because even I was surprised by the level of violence in this film. It’s beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time, probably ever. It’s probably the bloodiest thing I’ve ever seen, to date.
But it’s also probably the least affecting thing as well. I thought this was a horror flick, and, considering the level of gore, and what with penises and limbs being horrifically ripped off, or the chainsaws going into people’s mouths and staying there, with sprays of blood showering everything for hours at a time, it’d be a safe bet.
But it’s probably more of a comedy, albeit a very nasty one. There’s also some contemporary satire, very reminiscent of Robocop despite clearly being about a far more fucked up society than Detroit. Ads for the privatised police force of an insane level of violence, reassuring the public that the police corporation has their violent best interests at heart, or tv ads for accessorised cutters catering to self-mutilators play, I guess, to contemporary commentary that would resonate with, I guess, Japanese audiences. I guess. But I’m not sure how the fear of being killed by giant mutant cocks plays into millennial anxieties or contemporary financial stresses.
dir: John Woo
I’m a bit confused. There’s a film called Red Cliffs that’s playing in the cinemas at the moment, which is meant to be an amalgam of two movies John Woo finished last year. But I don’t know if what I watched is what cinemagoers got to see, since I saw something around five hours long.
Now, there are films that are epic in length, others epic in scope, and still others are epic in terms of the boredom they inspire in audiences. ‘Epic’, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily synonymous with ‘good’. Some things are great the bigger they are, and I’ll leave it up to your personal preferences to imagine which ones, but tumours, debts, jail sentences and divorce settlements don’t necessarily improve with increased length, width or girth.
dir: David Fincher
David Fincher almost gets a lifetime pass from me for Fight Club. It’s a film so goddamn good that it elevates him into the lofty heights of directors whom I’ll defend even if they make twenty shitty films compared to their one or two masterpieces. Brad Pitt has no such pass from me, lifetime or otherwise. I have such a deep antipathy for his brand of actoring that he is usually the weakest link (for me) even in the strongest of films.
This flick, right off the bat, I enjoyed, very much so, despite the fact that there is less going on here than meets the eye. The premise sounds like it’s high concept enough, but it’s used more for its ironic sense than anything else. A F. Scott Fitzgerald short story is the origin of the film’s screenplay, but it has been fleshed out and elaborated upon in order to make it a serious, prestige Oscarbait contender, instead of the Twilight Zone half-hour that it probably warranted instead.
In the early part of the 20th Century, a clockmaker grieves over the death of his son in the Great War. He constructs a clock for a train station that runs backwards instead of forwards, with the (poetic, not literal) hope that such a clock going backwards would reverse time and resurrect the many sons who died needlessly, bringing them home to their devastated families.
It is, without doubt, the most touching moment of the movie. It occurs in the first few minutes, and, truth be told, the flick never matches or exceeds those moments from there onwards. It does, however, remain interesting.
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: Scott Derrickson
The Earth Didn’t So Much Stand Still on This or Any Other Day, it More Kind of Farted, Rolled Over and Went Back to Sleep.
Perhaps a bit long for a title, but it’s certainly more accurate. Of course if they didn’t use the original title reminding people this is a remake of the Cold War era classic, then no-one would be any the wiser, and no-one would have bothered to go and see it.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being pointless, and 10 being pointed, this remake of a beloved alleged sci fi classic sits somewhere between pointless and pointlessly enjoyable. Ascribing a numerical value to that itself is pointless, but that’s probably not going to stop me from assigning a numerical rating at the end of the review. The Day The Earth Stood Still is not as entertaining or scolding as its predecessor, but it certainly looks prettier.
dir: Julian Jarrold
Plenty of people, pretty much only the people who’ve read the book and watched the BBC series, would think that a film version of Brideshead Revisited is either redundant or pointless or both. I have watched the series and read the book, and have now watched this latest adaptation. Hurray for me.
So maybe I am one of those who think a new version is pointless. Thing is, though, I still enjoyed the flick.
Of course a two-hour version seems pointless after the majesty and scope and patience of the series, but then when you’re making a film for contemporary audiences, you’re not catering to people with relaxed attention spans and time. You’re catering to hyper-caffeinated people with the patience, attention span and morals of feral ferrets.
So, boiling a complex novel down to its essentials is the order of the day, here. I don’t have a problem with that, mostly because I’m so familiar with the source material. Sure, it is period piece stuff arising from the success of Atonement (which is a very different kettle of gay fish compared to Brideshead) with a similar kind of look, but it’s not an especially complex story.
dir: Sam Mendes
Oh what a miserable fucking film. It starts off with one of those miserable and uncomfortable couple fights that makes you want to slink away without making eye contact, and progresses onwards with a gruesome autopsy of a relationship that should never have been between two people who should never have been together.
Based on an apparently classic 1950s novel of the same name by Richard Yates, it’s a film undoubtedly influenced at least in its stylistic elements by the rise of that Mad Men era-philia. In truth, though, this is an earlier era depicted, even if visually they’re indistinguishable. Sure the guys all wear smart suits and those hats, and smoke everywhere, and drink constantly and such.
But this is a time meant to be closer to the end of World War II rather than the cool cat airport lounge hipsterism of the early 1960s depicted in the aforementioned (and admittedly highly loveable) television series. Men and women were still working out what their post-war roles were meant to be, and for some people the answers were never going to be pretty.
The name of the flick makes it sound like it’s going to be a film explaining to kids why they should or shouldn’t have pictures of Che Guevara on their t-shirts, but all it refers to is the suburban road in Connecticut where the unhappily married Wheelers live.
dir: Ed Harris
Ah, westerns. Not nearly enough of them are still being made. And, in some senses, as with musicals, X-Men films and anything made by Baz Luhrman, you could argue that there is no goddamn need to ever, ever make any more of them ever again.
The western, however, unlike the other examples cited, deserves to have a continued existence. It deserves to survive, and prosper as a genre filled with awe-inspiring scenery, people killing each other with guns, and the rugged individualism Americans like to think they’re all heirs to.
It’s the most quintessential of American genres. You can make the argument that virtually all cinema and all genres originate in America, considering the birthplace of the cinematic art form, but then you’d be being awfully pedantic, and no-one likes sleeping with awfully pedantic people. So let that be a warning to you.
Whatever the argument’s merits, the irony is that despite the ‘you’ve come a long way, baby’ that America has achieved as a country and in terms of civilisation, they still hunger to make and see films set in an era before everything was decided: before there were limits on anything, be it ambition, be it violence, or be it a complete lack of fences.
They hunger for the time when they were all free range, and maybe we do to. Personally, I have no hankering for the strapping on of guns, the crush of nuts on a horse’s saddle, or the killing of random people in saloons. Nor does that rugged individualism bullshit resonate with me either. I’m way too lazy, for one thing.
But I do love the ambiguous moral arguments, the heroes who are stone cold killers, and the villains who are almost indistinguishable from the heroes themselves. And I do love the scenery.
Appaloosa is set in those heady days of the 1880s, post Civil War, where civic structures were solidifying across the States. Lawmen were essentially mercenaries hired by rich townsfolk to come to their towns to kill their enemies. Our two protagonists: Virgil Cole (Ed Harris, who also directs), and Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), are two of these lawmen-for-hire. They are, I guess, good guys. They believe themselves to be the good guys, and act accordingly, by drafting regulations governing the town entirely to their liking.
The rich bastards running the town hire them not because they really care that someone near them needs to feel the harsh noose of justice for their crimes, but because they’re losing money. The villainous Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) might have killed a bunch of guys, but the reason the town fathers want him dealt with is because his lackeys avail themselves of all the town's booze and whores without paying accordingly.
dir: Ridley Scott
Ridley is, apparently, the decent Scott brother who directs sometimes quite decent films. Yes, he made Hannibal, and part of me will hate him forever for that one, but generally he makes okay flicks, or at least he did thirty years ago.
Tony Scott is the awful hack who makes painful films that sully the Scott name, generally. He makes occasionally less than horrific flicks, and then makes horrific flicks which are an insult to the eyes and the intellect, damning our entire species whenever a single person pays good money to watch any of his movies.
In case you miss my meaning: I’d rather watch a Michael Bay movie than a Tony Scott movie.
In genre and content Body of Lies would seem to almost be more of a Tony Scott flick than a Ridley one, since he has previously made spy – high tech thrillers, with varying degrees of success (or annoyance, as the case may be), but for whatever reason the Brothers Scott flipped a coin and it came up Ridley. Which is good, because that means the film is at least watchable, as in a human pair of eyes can be trained upon it for minutes without bursting in dual showers of vitreous humour.
That’s not to say the film entirely works, and it seems like it drags a bit despite being fairly fast paced. But it’s very much of its moment, and tries to give itself credibility by treating, with credibility, the contemporary world of US Intel / Counterintel, jihadist terrorism, puppies with hurt paws and making out with hot Iranian chicks.
dir: Gus Van Sant
You would have thought that the acclaimed documentary The Life and Times of Harvey Milk would have pretty much covered the story of this incandescently flamboyant political icon of the 1970s. But, let’s be honest: unless someone wins an Academy award and fictionalises the fuck out of a story, we don’t really care.
And why have footage of Harvey Milk playing Harvey Milk in a documentary about himself when you can have Sean Penn overacting all over the place instead?
So much better. To be fair, Penn mostly controls himself and delivers what is a stand-out performance in a career defined by stand-out performances, overacting, having been married to Madonna and beating up paparazzi.
I knew plenty of the details surrounding Milk’s death moreso than his life, because of the hilarious manner in which the person who murdered him used one of the most incredible defences in order to beat the rap and reduce his clearly cold-blooded and premeditated crime to an act of junk food-fuelled manslaughter due to diminished capacity. Of course the truth of what was actually argued by his defence team and what has become the pop culture meme of the “twinkie defence” are two completely different things.
dir: Panna Rittikrai, Tony Jaa
You could be forgiven for thinking that this movie was a sequel or even a prequel to Tony Jaa’s debut Ong Bak. I mean, that’s what 2 usually stands for in these circumstances. Having watched both flicks, I can’t really see any point of intersection except in the fact that Tony Jaa kicks several shades of fuck out of a hell of a lot of people.
As far as I’m concerned, as long as the fights are as jawdropping as this, I don’t care if he calls every movie he makes Ong Bak with some numerical designation following, with no more connective a story-based tissue than: ‘Some guy, for some reason, beating a lot of people up in incredibly elaborate ways.”
For all I know, that’s what Ong Bak actually means in Thai. For all I care though, I eagerly look forward whenever I hear that Tony Jaa’s stepping up and putting out another movie.
Sure, he’s not much of an actor, and spends most of this flick glaring and not saying any dialogue. That’s good, though. We don’t want him talking. Talking’s not his forte. I hear he’s not good at math or doing the dishes, either. And he’s not very considerate in bed.
It doesn’t matter, because he is an amazing cinematic fighter. I say this with some knowledge only of what people look like fighting on the big and small screens. I have no idea if people like Tony Jaa, or Donnie Yen, or Jet Li for that matter are actually formidable opponents away from the cameras. They are skilled and trained in a certain kind of choreographed performance that exists for the camera, not for actually beating up legions of people with. I guess if we ever hear about any of those guys, or even Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris, staging a bloody coup, and taking over some nation, we’d know for sure that they actually do possess the skills to pay the bills, conquer nations and crush dissent, and that this movie stuff was just an elaborate ruse to lull the world into a false sense of popcorn-fuelled security.
dir: Christopher Nolan
We don't really have 'event' movies anymore. No movie, because of the sheer quantity of flicks that come out, and the quantity of other potential things a person can do (and might prefer to do) instead of going to the theatre, can come out and dominate the landscape like it could in the past.
The days of something completely massive in its level of public interest, a flick that gets everyone to watch it and everyone to talk about it, are pretty much gone. The last such flick, one that almost everyone worldwide went to see at the cinema, everyone talked about whether they saw it or not, and everyone just knew of its very existence was Titanic.
It’s why Titanic is the all time box office champion, and will continue to be until something magically compels people to go back to the theatres instead of watching flicks on their home theatre set-ups, computer screens or handheld devices.
What’s really lost is the uniting effect or power that movies can have. Everyone saw and had an opinion on Star Wars. Everyone knows the theme from Jaws. Everyone, down to your immigrant, non-English speaking parents, your one-eyed, one-legged beggars and three-breasted midget hookers recognised the awful Celine Dion theme from Titanic, and learned what happens when an irresistible force (a giant iceberg) meets an immovable object (audiences consisting mostly of teenage girls and middle-aged women happy to pay 12 times to see the same 3 hours-plus flick).
So when a perfect storm of factors, coincidences, marketing seem to coalesce to make a film look like one of those major Events Of The Year, something that people’s great-great-grandkids will be talking about like it’s the Wright Brothers taking their first flight all over again, it really doesn’t amount to that much down the track. No flick, whether it’s The Dark Knight or Kung Fu Panda, really matters that much anymore. Because, ultimately, it’s one of millions of such products, which will be on DVD in a couple of months, and five more films will be released the following week to help you forget you ever saw it, even if it was pretty good.
dir: David Wain
I really do wonder how some flicks get made. This isn’t a bad flick, but when I think about the performances, the plot and its success, I wonder who thought it was a good idea in the first place.
For a flick without a single likable character in it, it does manage to generate several laughs, at least several more laughs than another recent comedy that inflicted itself upon our eyeballs called Observe and Report. The difference is that this flick is nowhere near as vile, and does have some pretty funny moments. Not many, but enough.
This one, unfortunately, has Seann William Scott in a lead role, and that never helps anybody. As I’ve said in other reviews, I think it’s great that retarded people not be excluded from working in Hollywood, and that Scott continuing to get work gives hope to all the other Downs Syndrome sufferers out there. But good God is he dumb. Even knowing that he’s supposed to be dumb doesn’t change the fact that he consistently gives the impression that he’s only a few seconds away from crapping his own pants.
Paul Rudd is a bit better, but he’s really only playing a minor variation on most of the characters he ever plays. Actually, scratch that, he remains unchanged from movie to movie. The difference is that I actually find him likable even if his characters are obnoxious.
dir: Steve McQueen
When I heard that there was this apparently really cool film that was going to come out, and that it was directed by Steve McQueen, my first question was: “Isn’t he dead?” My next question was “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck had nothing better to do with its fucking time?”
The answers to both questions, surprisingly enough, are “Yes” and “Not much.” Steve McQueen is some artist, not the classic actor from Great Escape, The Getaway and Bullit. The car did most of the acting in Bullit, I admit, but no, McQueen is some other guy which doesn’t mean that the original McQueen is doing a Tupac Shakur from beyond the grave, releasing stuff despite the minor inconvenience of being dead.
The one thing I’ve never heard or seen in any of the reviews of this flick, which have been uniformly positive, is that the film would actually make me sick. I’m not, as is my wont, exaggerating or embellishing like I usually do. In the last fifteen or so minutes of the flick, when Michael Fassbender, who plays Bobby Sands, really earns his keep, the image of his emaciated and lesion/sore covered body comes up on the screen.
When I saw this, I was overwhelmed by a feverish nausea, and I actually fainted. It’s the only time this has ever happened to me. I literally hit the ground. I still have a bruise and a swollen bit above my eyebrow where I hit a coffee table on my journey to the floor. No drugs or booze played any role in this. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not.
dir: Mamuro Oshii
Now, I’ve watched some weird and slow things in my time, but this, this here Japanese animated movie is by far the most recent.
I can’t pretend that I am in any way even remotely an expert on the Japanese art form known as anime. I’ve watched some of it, I know there’s plenty more of it out there, but I can’t even pretend that I’m an authority. Very far from it. And though I’ve also watched a lot (and by a lot I mean hundreds at least) of Japanese films, again, I can’t pretend to be some sort of smartypants pontificating scholar on the Japanese visual arts.
The main reason isn’t because of any special, new-found caution on my part, or a reluctance to sound like an arrogant jerk. If you’ve read any of my reviews thus far then you know I have no qualms and zero problems with that. The truth is I simply don’t get, most of the time, the Japanese.
This is not going to be some anti-Japanese tirade, so those of you who might have come here through some ill-advised linkages on some Blood & Honour or Stormfront White Power pages will most likely be deeply disappointed, you dumb fucking racist crackers. Remember, White Power is pronounced “Waaah-eeet Paaaarrr”. And stop fucking your sisters as well. It does no good for your gene pool.
dir: Tomas Alfredson
You would think that the vampire genre has been pretty much tapped out by now. The well went dry right about the time someone decided vampires could be an excellent Mormon stand-in for preaching abstinence and that sunlight, instead of burning them, would make them go all shiny and mirror-ball. How pretty! All Twilight needed further was ponies, and it would have been complete!
The endless permutations, allegorical renderings, highbrow and low trash versions mean that almost each and every possibility has been explored and then some.
So if you’re one of the many who’s heard of this strange little Swedish film and you’re wondering why it made so many critics end-of-year lists last year, and why it’s gotten so much acclaim, you might think it’s because it takes the vampire genre and radically twists it around and makes it all new again, kinda like that surgery they claim can turn women back into virgins. Yeah, as if.
You would be, like I was, surprised to find that Let the Right One In, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist isn’t really that different. Even in Swedish, even set in the 80s, it’s a recognisable part of the vampire canon of tales and stories. This vampire needs blood, has to avoid sunlight, has to be invited in to a house in order to enter it, and its bite alone can turn its victims vampiric if the vampire neglects to kill those it feeds on.
So nothing radically new there. The difference is in the telling, and in the way we are meant to care not only about the vampire, but the main character, a human boy of only 12 years of age.
dir: John Patrick Shanley
I have doubts about this film. It’s well made, there’s no doubt about it. It’s an interesting story. My doubts stem from the fact that Meryl Streep, for all her sheer wonderfulness, doesn’t always hit it out of the park, as an American might say. Being an Australian, I guess I’m obligated to say that she should be hitting it for six, but the truth is I like cricket even less than baseball, if it’s even possible.
My problems with the whole wide world of sport shouldn’t bleed into the quality time you spend reading my reviews, so I should back down, I guess. The fact is, Meryl’s performance in this was so off-putting that I could barely appreciate the flick at some points. Every time she spoke or overdid some physical mannerism or affectation, it would kick me out of the film and remind me that I was watching some of the alleged prime thespians of their day battle it out in a no holds barred Battle Royale.
Again with the sport, though wrestling is hardly a sport in the real sense. She plays a nun, Sister Aloysius, with the fierceness and demeanour of some kind of treasure-hoarding troll. I appreciate that she’s meant to be this fearsome personage at the school where she rules/teaches, but c’mon Meryl, don’t you think you took it a bit too far? She looked and acted like she was auditioning for the part of Gollum in a Lord of the Rings remake.
And don’t think it’s too soon. Give it a few years.
dir: Johnnie To
Hong Kong director Johnnie To has made so many films that saying something like “and so I’m going to review the latest film by Johnnie To” is a pointless endeavour, because by the time you’ve finished writing the review, he’s put out another film.
At the very least I can say this is a recent film of his, and that I managed to catch it as part of a retrospective in honour of the great man that played recently at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Apparently he even came out to Australia for it, which is pretty sensational. He was probably pissed off that he couldn’t smoke in the theatre, if I can hazard a guess based on anecdote and on most of his films, in which every single goddamn character has to smoke constantly.
Of course even a fairly knowledgeable film watcher / movie goer would be saying to themselves, “yeah, and who the fuck is Johnnie To anyway, and why should I care?” And right you are.
dir: Matt Reeves
Disaster movies seem kinda superfluous in this day and age. Even major cities suffering horrendous destruction hasn’t been a rare occurrence (obviously) in, let’s say, the last decade or so. And with war, arbitrary death and ‘splosions being common in the less white parts of the world, getting to enjoy a film where a nebulous horror visits destruction upon hapless urban sophisticates seems like a pointless indulgence.
Of course, by that logic, practically no films have any moral justification for their existence at any time. And then where would I be? Writing reviews of plays and the goddamn opera? I’d have even less people reading my reviews. How do you get less than zero again? Okay, negative numbers. I’d have negative numbers of readers reading my reviews, which, if I’ve got the temporal mechanics right, would mean that the reviews would be being unread by increasing numbers of non-existent anti-matter readers.
Then there’d be some kind of tear in the fabric of space-time, and I’d be responsible for damning the universe to non-existence as it turned itself catastrophically inside out.
Another great year of movies. Another couple of hundred reviews read by a few bored people online and by harvesting bots trying to find email addresses to send crucial details regarding penis breasting and Nigerian viagra accounts to.
From a film-watching point of view, I was forced by dint of circumstance, in other words, by the entry of my daughter Dawn Matilda into this harsh and occasionally beautiful world, to watch a lot of flicks on DVD (legitimately) and a few via the illegal largesse of the download fairies. I’m not justifying it, I’m not excusing it, I just think that when I can barely make it to the cinema a dozen times due to looking after a baby girl, I am morally justified in watching stuff that I didn’t and you didn’t pay for.
dir: Sylvester Stallone
Some things are just unbelievable, even when you see them with your own eyes. I had heard the level of violence in this film described to me by a friend, but even then I had no idea just how incredibly violent it would be.
This is one of the first times I’ve watched a flick with war footage where I seriously think actual war footage wouldn’t be as graphic and violent. Just think of that irony: an actual war would be less violent than hopefully the last flick in this holy franchise.
Oh sure, all the Rambo films have been violent, but that violence, viewed now, of a mannequin of a camp commandant being blown apart by an exploding arrow, or the torture of numerous poor shmucks at the hands of America’s enemies, seems positively quaint in comparison. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.
I’m not sure how this works, but we went from First Blood, to Rambo II: Electric Boogaloo, to Rambo III to this latest flick, titled Rambo. No, we haven’t gone back in time. No, you don’t have to go through the misery of high school and your first humiliating sexual encounters again.
dir: Pete Travis
What these kinds of flicks usually have going for them is momentum. It’s not brains, it’s not character, and it’s certainly not depth.
Vantage Point is essentially a Bourne-type film without the advantage or the anchor of a Jason Bourne-like character. To compensate for this they fracture the narrative, replay the central event what feels like fifty times, and then break out of the temporal loop by moving forward at break-neck speed to the big action climax.
Initially, we watch the occasion of an anti-terrorism summit in Salamanca, Spain, from the confines of a news van covering the event to the side of a jam-packed plaza. The US President (William Hurt) is here on this historic occasion where the leaders of many nations are banding together to assert that terrorism is bad, m’kay? He is guarded by Secret Service agents (Matthew Fox and Dennis Quaid), one of whom recently took a bullet for him, or at least thinks he did. An American tourist (Forest Whitaker) watches the event through his video camera, uncomfortable with the idea of trusting his memory alone. Or is it because the camera has some plot significance later on?
dir: David Schimmer
Sure, the title of this flick is a phrase that has been yelled at me by people in passing cars, the police, girlfriends and my own mother, but I’m not bitter about it…
Well, not too bitter.
Simon Pegg is becoming a ubiquitous figure of British comedy, in that a few comedies come out of Britain each year, and he seems to be in at least one of them annually. Yes, that is my new definition of ubiquity.
He’s recognisable, and has a loyal following of fans who find his antics and constant mugging amusing. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are his two most well known roles, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that this flick right here is anything like those other ones.
This should not, nay, MUST not be confused with the comedies Pegg’s been in with Nick Frost and directed by Ed Wright.
Because, in case you missed it, this flick was directed by the tool who used to play Ross on Friends. Yes, the loathsome, the terrible, the horripilating David Schimmer.
dir: Jon Favreau
The only real criteria I had initially for whether the flick would be great or disastrous shite was the demand that the guitar riff from Black Sabbath’s Iron Man had to be used at least once during the whole experience. So I watched it all, forgetting my initial charge, until the film ended on a deliriously funny high note, with the riff then booming out of the theatre’s speakers. I was pretty damn happy about that.
Still, it shows at the very least how profoundly low my expectations were.
The most surprising element of this whole Iron Man extravaganza is not that Robert Downey Jr is great in the title role (he’s a great actor, fully comfortable with a role that is a gift to him), or that the flick itself is very entertaining. The surprise is that Jon Favreau has now finally made a flick worth watching.
As an actor, he makes a mediocre director, and as a director, he makes a mediocre actor. If you’ve ever seen him, then you know what I mean. He’s a perennial friend to main characters, raising the status of the side-kick to new lows. Generally, except when he’s directing the film, you might see him dangling from the side of taller actors like Vince Vaughn and Vince Vaughn and, um, Ben Affleck. He even has a little role here for himself as the main character’s limo driver. Start swooning now, ladies.