You are here

2008

Drillbit Taylor

dir: Stephen Brill
[img_assist|nid=103|title=There is death in my eyes|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Soon after making this here particularly worthless flick, Owen Wilson tried to commit suicide. Coincidence?

Director Stephen Brill is responsible for two of the dumbest Adam Sandler comedies (if that isn't a tautology), being Little Nicky and Mr Deeds. Is it possible for a movie directed by such a lowlife to be anywhere near worth watching, especially considering the fact that one of its main stars tried to kill himself soon after the production wrapped up?

The premise revolves around nerds so nerdy the nerds from Revenge of the Nerds would beat them up, being terrorised by an evil bully. So desperate and afraid are they, and so blind is the school to the campaign of terror waged against them, that they decide to hire a bodyguard, who turns out to be a homeless bum. Are the people involved in this production likely to receive Nobel nominations some time next year for their services in highlighting the plight of the homeless?

It’s unlikely. Perhaps I’m making too much of Wilson’s attempted suicide, but the fact is, you know, for a few moments, I was contemplating embracing the emptiness of eternal oblivion just minutes into this misbegotten 80s throwback idiocy.

Rating:

Onion Movie, The

dir: James Kleiner?
[img_assist|nid=74|title=Onions, by their very nature, not especially funny|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=225|height=300]
There is a shroud of mystery, a deathly pall hanging over this movie, the movie called The Onion Movie. What’s its story? What’s going on? How is Rodney Dangerfield in it? Hasn’t he been dead a long while? Has he risen from the grave, searching for the respect that long eluded him? Will his undead zombie be calling for “Brains!” or “Boobies”?

Two digressions: I’ll try to keep them quick. The real antecedent/origin of this flick is an attempt to make something along the lines of Kentucky Fried Movie or the Airplane/Flying High! movies. That’s the style of comedy that comes closest to this both in format and content. Since the movie uses the Onion television channel as its framing device, and the soothing, credible crooning of newsreader Norm Archer (Len Cariou) to link the various stories, with ads and other programs thrown in, it’s almost like it’s made to order template-wise according to the KFC spec.

Rating:

Pathology

dir: Marc Schoelerman
[img_assist|nid=149|title=You're going to stick what in my mouth?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=267]
This is some pretty sick shit. Insane, too. I hesitate to call it a horror flick, because that makes it sound like it’s scary and that there’s a plot, albeit a generic one.

No, though some elements of this insane flick were guessable in advance, I can’t really say I predicted just how crazy and nasty this crazy flick was going to play out.

Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) is an allegedly brilliant doctor who is interning at an acclaimed pathology centre. The on-the-job training focuses on not only the techniques of pathology (autopsies and such), but on figuring out how people died and what killed them.

From the moment he starts working and studying there, a strange group of idiots led by someone whose name is coincidentally Gallo (Michael Weston) initially ridicule him but then bring him into their ranks with a deadly game they’re just itching to play with him.

In this world without police or pretty much any law enforcement, these crazy kids commit elaborate murders, with the intention being stumping the other interns in their little club with the sheer elusive brilliance with which it was carried out.

Rating:

Ruins, The

dir: Carter Smith
[img_assist|nid=25|title=Feed me young Americans, please|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=300]
Four hot young American kids on holiday in Mexico? Of course it’s a horror film. Why else do Americans in any movies go on any holidays, whether it’s Slovenia, Central or Southern America? To be killed, presumably, because every American knows that the rest of the world hates/fears/envies them.

Also, I guess it’s scarier for American audiences to think of themselves as the targets of the world’s attentions.

Our four chaps and chapettes here are just college age kids partying before heading back to their studies. Partying for them is like what partying for the rest of the non-American world is like: drinking and fucking. But they do possess a modicum of curiousity about tourist traps as well.

So when a German guy with an unconvincing German accent tells them of some secret archaeological dig site, they decide to go along for the ride, in order to do something ‘cultural’ before catching their plane back home.

Little do they know that they are mere fodder for some hellish example of history and evolution gone wild. Wild I say!

Rating:

Stop Loss

dir: Kimberley Pierce
[img_assist|nid=143|title=We look like we're having fun, but inside, we're dying|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=470|height=318]
Stop Loss is the latest entry in the new genre of American war flicks examining just how terrible it is for young Americans fighting in Iraq. Thanks to a cruel administration and a cruel commander-in-chief, these noble, selfless men (and a fair few women) are suffering, suffering for their time spent in country nobly fightin’ them over there so they don’t have to fight ‘em over here. Or in Texas, as the case may be.

Even those soldiers who aren’t killed or horribly maimed; they suffer on the inside. They suffer even when they go home. Then their families and loved ones suffer. America, how much suffering can your poor nation endure?

And, to add insult to injury, the ruthless and cruel Army is sending them back to the meat grinder against the express conditions of their assumption that entering the Army enhances instead of comprises your free will.

What? How dare they? Don’t they have any consideration for my feelings? How dare they send me back to kill more Iraqi civilians? What gives them the right?

Oh, wait, is it because I enlisted voluntarily in the Army? Yeah, okay, that’s why.

Rating:

Dark Knight, The

dir: Christopher Nolan
[img_assist|nid=94|title=The Joker in all his posthumous glory|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=633|height=310]
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.

Rating:

Hancock

dir: Peter Berg
[img_assist|nid=36|title=Hancock|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=399]
There seem to be superhero flicks coming out every goddamn week, and mostly they’re the tried and tested superhero properties carefully branded and nurtured by DC and Marvel Comics over the last century. They are, at least the successful ones, considered to be powerful box office draws and dependable investments. Yes, I’m talking about Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Fours and the X-Men flicks. You can now, due to its inexplicable success, add Iron Man to the list.

Then there’s the second tier of flicks based on lesser known superheroes which seem not to do as well simply because they’re not as well known, and aren’t considered serious draws, no matter how well they do (Spawn, The Crow, Blade, Daredevil, Electra, Hellboy, Constantine, Ghost Rider, The Phantom, The Shadow et bloody cetera.) The primary difference is that the top tier characters are so well known and so recognisable that everyone goes to see them at the cinema, and children the world over whine until their parents buy them the merchandise. With the second tier, only the fans and nerds go or care.

Rating:

Street Kings

dir: David Ayer
[img_assist|nid=106|title=This is my serious face|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=471|height=298]
For my money, any film based on a screenplay that James Ellroy worked on is necessary watching. Obligatory watching. It would be a crime not to.

Now that I think about this a bit more, I start to wonder why this should be the case. Sure, LA Confidential did all right, and I really liked Dark Blue. But Black Dahlia is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t really Ellroy’s fault: we can parcel out the blame to superhack Brian DePalma, Josh Hartnett’s beady little eyes and complete inability to act and a whole host of bad actors looking foolish and acting worse.

Then again, since it was a pretty ludicrous story, maybe it was Ellroy’s fault. For all the gritty crime writing he’s been responsible for, he also, like Stephen King, had a long period of time working fuelled by stimulants, whereby both have written lots of stuff neither remembers writing at all. And it shows, if you know the respective time periods involved.

He remains, though, someone I very much respect in the field of crime writing. I’m not sure how well his work meshes with the world of David Ayer, whose script for Training Day trod a very Ellroyesque path of very corrupt cops doing very corrupt things, but it would seem to be a natural fit.

Rating:

Be Kind Rewind

dir: Michel Gondry
[img_assist|nid=4|title=A less boring version of 2001: A Space Odyssey|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=270]
Being able to enjoy a flick like this is dependent upon a few variables. A high tolerance threshold for enduring Jack Black helps. Being able to put up with yet another variation on the ‘stick up for the little guy against the heartless government/corporations’ plotline helps.

Being able to appreciate the artschool, ramshackle aesthetic / messiness and the idea that an entire community in New Jersey could be delighted by and pay good money to see short films based on famous movies starring Jack Black and Mos Def, in lieu of watching actual movies, would also be paramount.

Also, where I write ‘artschool’, what I really mean is ‘artfag’. Such a term is not exactly dripping with political correctness and sensitivity, so I’m glad I never used it in the body of this review.

Phew! Dodged a bullet on that one, eh?

In varying degrees and with varying quantities, I guess I do possess or at least entertain some of the variables previously mentioned, because I didn’t hate Be Kind Rewind, despite feeling as if I should have. Sure, it’s pretty shaggy, creaky and cheesy, but I still enjoyed the shit out of it.

Rating:

Forbidden Kingdom, The

dir: Rob Minkoff
[img_assist|nid=109|title=Together at last, in Brokeback Four Elements Mountain|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=480|height=320]
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a young clueless kind of guy (Michael Angarano) who’s a big fan of 70s Hong Kong martial arts films gets mysteriously yanked through time in a bid to save China from the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) by returning the staff of the Monkey King (Jet Li) to its rightful owner.

From zero to hero in record time. Yes it is the same plot as every ill-advised attempt to bridge the cultural and box office gap between America and China through the distorted lens of Hong Kong cinema that has ever been committed to celluloid, cellulite and cellulose as well.

Homaging, pastiching, or downright ripping off Hong Kong flicks is nothing remotely new, in fact some hacks have made a career out of it. This flick takes a slightly different tack in that it uses CGI and current editing/post production tricks not to reference those flicks, but to at least replicate them on the whole, whilst remaining American-friendly throughout.

In other words, except for the pasty, awkward American teenager, this looks like a pretty good approximation of one of the many Shaw Brothers flicks that they talk about, except it’s in English.

Rating:

Pages

Subscribe to 2008