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2011

Drive

Drive

"Just shut up and keep your eyes on the road, and just Drive" she said.

dir: Nicolas Winding Refn

Few films live up to the hype. No films really can. Hype is hype, by its nature an aggravating and ephemeral thing, which complicates how we appreciate films. It complicates the way we come to them, the angle we come at them from.

Drive is one of those deliriously (critically, not commercially) hyped flicks that, of course, can’t live up to the hype. The critical hype obscured, for me, what the flick was actually like, and about, to the point where I expected one thing, and got something completely different.

I thought this was going to be a somewhat more enjoyable or thoughtful action flick to do with some guy who can drive really fast. What it ended up being is more of a standard neo-noir crime flick. That’s not a knock against it or any of the people involved here, because my expectations and assumptions aren’t worth shit.

Really, it’s a very regular, very familiar kind of flick, with a very familiar set of characters, and a very predictable outcome. Along the way, though, it’s well acted, very well directed, and kind of arresting.

The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a taciturn, competent man, who always wears, even later on when it’s covered in blood, a white jacket with the image of a scorpion. Why? Well, maybe it looks cool to someone back in the 1980s. It’s the kind of thing you can imagine the default leader of an unpopular and weak gang wearing in The Warriors.

Rating:

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

"Funny ladies doing mostly unfunny things" probably isn't that good
as an alternative title

dir: Paul Feig

If this is the ‘female’ response to what is commonly and erroneously referred to as the Summer of Judd Apatow – raunchy comedies, then what the fuck was the question? I’m sure there are plenty of mouthbreathers who were wondering: “Shoot, what would a flick like The Hangover be like if it was all chicks? Yeah, and how do they get I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to taste like butter so much?”

The answer to both is not worth speaking, or hearing, really.

This isn’t really a raunchy comedy showcasing female comedic talent. Kristen Wiig as the lead, and Maya Rudolph have both been funny in stuff, and in far funnier films than this. The problem here is that, for a comedy, it’s not really that funny.

It’s far more of a low-stakes drama than anything else, because all of the impetus of the plot is about how shitty the main character feels because her best friend has some other friend. In other words, this groundbreaking and radical comedy is all about how bitchy, shallow, insecure and jealous women are.

It’s almost as if we live in a universe where the Sex and the City series and movies don’t exist. What a sweet universe that would be…

Rating:

Attack the Block

Attack the Block

If children really are our future, then aren't we totally fucked?

dir: Joe Cornish

Did you ever wonder what all those British youthful scumbags were doing before they started rioting through the streets of London?

Apparently, they were saving us from the alien scum of the universe.

Someone had the idea recently of ‘what if aliens invaded the Wild, Wild West?’ That movie was made, and was known as Cowboys and Aliens. Someone else had the idea ‘what if aliens invaded people’s arses?’ And that masterpiece was made. It was called Dreamcatcher. And now some dickhead thought to himself or herself ‘what if aliens invaded a British public housing estate?’

And lo and behold, Attack the Block was made.

It’s impossible to set a flick in or around a council estate, or housing commission flats, or the projects, or the Parisian banlieu or any form of public housing, without much of the underlying story being about the social commentary opportunities the location throws up. Having said that, this flick uses it as an opportunity to comment more on the actions of the protagonists, who live in these places, rather than the supposed ethics of the people or the system that places them there.

Rating:

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses

You know, all bosses may suck, but being a boss ain't
easy either with all these crybabies about

dir: Seth Gordon

Everyone hates their boss, apparently. A flick like this is mining a rich seam of resentment, universal and eternal, that bubbles malevolently under the surface of every working stiff.

And at a time when people in the States either don’t have jobs, or are nervous about job security, a flick, ostensibly a comedy flick with protagonists so trapped by their evil bosses that they contemplate murder, doesn’t seem that outlandish.

It’s probably not that zeitgeist-y, since people have long imagined (or unfortunately, actually) going postal, and cruel petty bosses are a staple of pop culture and literature. It has been for thousands of years, if you believe the Bible. Let’s face it, if you don’t, you’re a godless heathen and I applaud you for your winning ways.

This flick is not a black comedy, despite the premise. It sounds ‘dark’, but it’s not. It’s utterly harmless, and I don’t think that hurts the flick at all. If anything, the fact that it’s so gutless, and that the protagonists are so gutless means that the superficiality allows us to enjoy a bit of fantasy wish-fulfilment without feeling guilty.

Wait, that’s a bad thing, isn’t it? I should be cursing the fuck out of this flick.

But I’m not going to. I actually laughed a fair few times, and didn’t care how silly any of it was, because it was enjoyable.

Rating:

Priest

Priest

Don't let the awesome poster fool you, this movie is pretty
fucking far away from being awesome

dir: Scott Stewart

Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick…

Pity poor Paul Bettany. No, really. He’s a decent actor, he’s achieved the Mt Everest of personal achievements by having had sex several times with Jennifer Connolly, and even married her, and had kids with her. He’s handsome, he’s charming, but he can’t get a decent break as an actor.

The most successful films he’s been in are ones in which he doesn’t physically appear (he does some computer voice in the Iron Man films), and in The DaVinci Code he played a self-flagellating albino nun-raping assassin. Have fun telling your mum about that role.

Almost everything else he’s done has been shit. No, that not fair, he was a splendid Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, but other than that, it’s all terrible crap.

To whit, he somehow was one of the few people who saw that terrible film Legion that came out a couple of years ago and thought “Wow, I should work with that terrible director again!”

And he did, because, on some level, Legion must not have been one of the dumbest and worst flicks he’s ever seen or been in. Sure as shit it’s one of the worst flicks from 2010 that I saw, so one of us is clearly wrong.

Rating:

Win Win

Win Win

Giamatti, you handsome devil, when will your day come?

dir: Thomas McCarthy

When you watch a lot of movies, you get so used to the hysterical, overbearing, oversaturated general default setting of cinema, that when a relatively quiet flick comes out that treats (mostly) dramas between people in a sane manner, it seems strange.

Not bad strange, just not at the fever pitch of melodrama that people expect from their media, or I guess have expected for decades.

Thomas McCarthy specialises in films seemingly devoted to fairly ordinary people living lives of quiet desperation, alleviated only by their interactions with other more interesting people. The films meander along, some conflict seems to arise organically, forcing some kind of crescendo, and then people’s lives continue, hopefully in a slightly better way. Maybe it sounds like I’m being derisive, but it’s not intended.

Though the protagonists of his previous flicks and the settings are all different (The Station Agent, The Visitor and this one), that approach seems to hold as a constant. You know, in case I haven’t made it clear enough, it’s a gentle, meandering, believable, human way to get a film and a premise across.

Perhaps you can guess what the laziest and most obvious criticism of these flicks could be. Something that mimics ‘real’ life in too realistic a manner runs the risk of being like actual life, in other words, tedious and painful. It can sap the will to live.

Rating:

Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

You wish he was thinking about you.
All he's really thinking about is being 55 million dollars richer

dir: Rob Marshall

When Elizabeth Taylor was paid $1,000,000 to star in Cleopatra back in ’64, it was considered both a record and a travesty. When man mountain Marlon Brando was paid $3.7 million and a percentage of profits for a few minutes of screen time in Superman, it was considered a fiasco and a symbol of how the days of Hollywood were numbered, seeing as it was starting to resemble the last days of Rome.

In the present day, Johnny Depp gets paid $55 million dollars to appear in another Pirates of the Caribbean flick, and it’s no big deal. Business as usual. Whatever.

And why? Well, surely it’s because these are the most beloved flicks of all time, and Depp, for playing the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, deserves every bloody well-earned penny? Surely?

Isn’t it a bit obscene, though? I don’t want to come across all ‘Workers Unite!’ and like some retrograde commie-pinko wanker, but is there really anything in this world that justifies getting paid that much? For that amount of money you’d think he was getting paid to sexually service, to the point of guaranteed happy ending, every person who steps into the theatre, anywhere in the world, any way they want.

Rating:

Cowboys and Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens

Go on, say I'm underacting one more time, I double dare you

dir: Jon Favreau

It’s not even Cowboys VERSUS Aliens. It’s Cowboys AND Aliens, as if pitting them against each other in the title would be too aggressive and off-putting to audiences who just want to see them together on the screen at the same time, peacefully co-existing, standing nonchalantly side by side.

Well, they’ll still be disappointed, because the Aliens attack the Cowboys, so all hope of gentle understanding and interspecies acceptance fly right out the fucking window.

However, in the flick’s greatest conceit, rugged outlaws, cattle men, Mexicans and Apaches fight together to conquer the alien menace, which transcends the genre bounds of science fiction and enters into the realms of purest fantasy.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not an example of my natural contrariness when I say that I actually enjoyed this flick. Nor have I suffered a stroke, or a fruity outburst of dementia, nor was I on film-enhancing drugs whilst watching, or receiving passionate head for the duration.

More’s the pity. Still, I somewhat enjoyed this strange flick despite the lack of the aforementioned, or any tangible reason as to why.

Rating:

Friends With Benefits

Friends with Benefits

Do you think, no, that they're implying, it can't be, something sexual?

dir: Will Gluck

Two attractive people. A fast-talking banal screenplay. The very barest of mocking derision aimed at romantic comedies within the text and the subtext. What could go wrong?

Nothing, nothing at all.

I find it very hard to buy Justin Timberlake as anything or anyone else apart from Justin Timberlake. It’s hard for me to buy him playing a character, any character. It doesn’t adversely impact on one’s potential enjoyment of this flick, I guess, if enjoyment is what you’re hoping for from a flick with Justin Timberlake in it.

It’s an effervescent trifle, a virtually forgettable flick forgotten as it is being watched, of such an incredible level of shallowness that it barely registers within human let alone goldfish memory consciousness.

I guess that’s not a bad thing. It’s not like they’re trying to teach us anything of great importance, like that tolerance is nice, and that racism is bad, or something similarly controversial. It’s just something people, presumably youngish people, could take someone to on a date, presumably to convince that someone, being a female, to have sex with you, being a male, afterwards.

Rating:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise up, or end up as one of their pets, why don't you

dir: Rupert Wyatt

Never has humanity’s downfall been so enjoyable or well-deserved.

Really, could it be a spoiler? Does anyone whose interest perks up at the elaboration on the title not know that, at some point, there’s this Planet, and it’s going to be Of The Apes? That there was a book about it, and a film about it with Charlton “My Hands Are Cold and Dead Now” Heston, and a bunch of other films to lesser success, and then Mark Wahlberg appeared on the scene to fuck things up?

And he wasn’t even playing an ape? How inexplicable is that?

Otherwise, the title wouldn’t resonate, and presumably, the multitudes wouldn’t care. Nah, what we craved, without knowing it, is an explanation; a grounded, believable explanation as to how the Apes came to ‘own’ our Planet, and what ‘we’, being arrogant, hubristic humans, did to allow them to take over.

Rating:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Deathly Hallows

Do you think, maybe, if they just kissed, then maybe things would be all right?

dir: David Yates

2010 & 2011

I’m going to review both of them together. I don’t think it really matters either way. They don’t work separately, and together they’re just a big old mess of convenient moments, slavish fan service and muggle muddling.

This will not be a good review. This will provide none of the fulfillment that you're looking for. The only thing worse than reading this review would be sitting down and watching both films back to back.

But they are, in their various parts and pieces, the culmination of a bunch of books and the films they were translated into, and an endpoint in a long-running series, and, at least the second part, is the third highest grossing film of all time, at least for another week or so.

And thus it deserves our special attention. It’s impossible to discuss anything that happens in these films without spoiling the events of the previous ones as well, so there’s virtually no point in issuing a spoiler warning. How else could you talk about the seventh (and eighth) instalments in a series?

Rating:

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

I think there needs to be at least a thousand more versions of
this book before we can stop

dir: Cary Fukunaga

Jane Eyre, eh? Prestige costume drama Oscar bait, eh?

Just imagine all the doilies and lace trimmings and bustles akimbo all over the place.

This just screams of potential audiences climbing over each other’s corpses, desperately trying to get to the box office in order to get tickets to the latest Brontean Blockbuster.

Despite the fact that the book presumably is still all over those high school reading lists for English or English Lit or whatever classes haven’t been cancelled and replaced with Glee-like activities (proudly sponsored by some repellent lip gloss), I’ve never read it, and never seen the dozens and dozens of versions of it that have been expelled onto an unwilling public.

I’d always lumped it in with all that Regency-era frippery like all of Jane Austen’s pap, and always assumed it to be on a par. You know, attractive and spirited but somewhat impoverished young ladies desperate to get married to someone who seems to treat them mean initially, but turns out to be more rad than cad, and who welcomes their spiritedness instead of having them incarcerated in a sanatorium for being hysterical.

Rating:

Captain America: The First Avenger

Carved from Granite. Acts like it Too.

dir: Joe Johnston

This makes up for enduring Green Lantern, but not by too much.

Captain America, despite being Captain America, was enjoyable enough. The film, especially the back end, doesn’t entirely satisfy, but it was so much more enjoyable an experience, and not as actively irritating as the aforementioned shitheap masquerading as just another franchise, that it could not help but look better.

I am aware that Captain America is a relatively ancient comic book property, dating back to the World War II era, famous for a cover that showed Cap punching out Hitler. The fact that this was drawn and published during the war makes it all the more important that, thankfully, Cap’s origin story (which most of the flick is) occurs during that vital time.

Rating:

Bad Teacher

She's so bad she should be punished. Repeatedly

dir: Jake Kasdan

Look, I find it strange that people keep equating or comparing this flick with the Terry Zwigoff flick Bad Santa. As far as I can tell, having watched both, the only thing they have in common is the same adjective in the title. Other than that, there’s no connection.

I mean, does Cameron Diaz piss her pants at any stage? Does she sodomise a plus-size woman in the change rooms at a mall? Does she generally indulge in behaviour that would get most people arrested, let alone fired from their job as an educator of young minds?

Well, actually, on that last point…

Maybe they’re linked in spirit, but Bad Santa was such a singular act of misanthropy that it seems churlish to compare anything to it, even despite the ridiculous ‘happy’ ending the Weinsteins forced onto the end of the flick. Bad Teacher’s trading on something less radioactive, but probably more enjoyable.

As well, as opposed to any flick by Terry Zwigoff, the main purpose of Bad Teacher is to be a funny, and a funny workplace comedy at that. And I found it pretty goddamn funny, truth be told.

Rating:

Green Lantern

Green Lantern

This is a whole new level of bad. Makes the whole Greens movement look bad.

dir: Martin Campbell

Well, this was a bad idea.

I know the people at DC Comics must be deeply envious of all the tainted money Marvel is earning through the morass of movies it’s been putting out lately (Iron Men, Thor, Captain America, et bloody cetera), but that’s no reason to try and convert every hero on its roster into a Hollywood product. This was, just… fuck… bad all the way through.

Imagine peering off a ledge into an abyss, and feeling the fear it naturally engenders. Step back, but then realise that it’s not an abyss, because it’s filled with shit, shit all the way down.

That’s kind of how I felt watching most of this flick. In a year which has already seen the release of a terrible flick with Green Something as the title, this terrible property wasn’t going to get an easy run. It doesn’t help that it’s such a dumb premise.

I will admit that I’ve never read word one of a Lantern comic, nor am I ever likely to. I don’t doubt that there’s possibly abundant wonderfulness to be found therein, but I’ve just got no goddamn interest. You could rightly wonder why, in that case, I would go out of my way to watch a film about a character and a storyline I have no interest in. Also, considering the poor reviews, I should have known that there wasn’t going to be much of worth to latch onto.

Rating:

The Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Everything... Everything... Everything... Everything... Everything

dir: Terrence Malick

It’s a beautiful film, trying to encompass in its scope, the entire world, the entire human experience, the entire universe. With such mighty ambitions, how can Malick not fall short? How could any of us not fall short?

The fact that the scope of his reach and the magnitude of his grasp are so close to each other means that when one exceeds the other, it doesn’t represent the failure that it would for other filmmakers. There are very few filmmakers (with money) like Malick, and his films are their own genre. As such they’re only really comparable to each other, not as much with other films.

You can only really know if you can enjoy a Malick film by having watched a few, and having immersed yourself in them, know what to expect. They are not conventional, they don’t follow a pattern, they don’t unfold in a conventional manner, and, mostly, they’re overflowing with beautiful cinematography, and the vast majority of the thoughts and intentions of the characters are delivered through internal monologues (voiceover).

Rating:

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Transformers Dark of the Moon

A film with a robot that big in it can't be that dumb, can it?

dir: Michael Bay

Michael Bay returns to fuck the proverbial metallic donkey again for fun and profit…

The last time I reviewed a Michael Bay – Transformers film, I made the point that Michael Bay is a donkeyfucker of long standing, who delivers exactly what he promises: 2 and a half hours of shiny, shiny donkeyfucking. As such, considering the vitriol his directorial abominations garner, I was simply stating the obvious that, whatever Bay’s actual intentions, pretentions and beliefs regarding the quality of the donkeyfucking he delivers on demand, he delivers exactly what he promises to the great unwashed texting, tweeting masses.

No-one expects either the Spanish Inquisition or decent acting performances from anyone in these flicks. No-one especially expects Shia La Fucking Beouf to act any better than he’s ever managed to in the past, because he’s always been terrible, and will always be terrible, unless they somehow mutate him in a lab or a meteorite crashes into his hideous head.

So what do people expect from a Transformers / Michael Bay donkeyfuckfest (I promise this will be the second-last time I use that phrase)? They expect a stupid plot that a child would feel insulted by, they expect an unnecessarily-elongated running time, and they expect big shiny robots transforming into other stuff, and then transforming back into robots in order to fuck shit up. And explosions, lots of explosions.

Rating:

X-Men: First Class

X Men First Class

They should have called it X-Men: This One Doesn't Suck
as Much as the Last One, Promise!

dir: Matthew Vaughn

Saying this is one of the best X-Men flicks is sort of like claiming some guy is the richest corpse in the graveyard, or that a particular stripper is the biggest drug addict at her strip club. A better competition that First Class wins is being one of the better, if not the best, of the flicks based on comic book properties that have come out this year thus far.

To be honest, it’s been pretty slim pickings, so it doesn’t mean the flick is that great. Just that it’s okay.

American summers result in the biggest blockbusteriest shitpiles being shat out upon the world, which is why most of the ‘best’ bets, like comic book flicks, come out at this time. Are audiences at their most pliable, most docile, most leotarded? Whatever it is, here we are, and here it is, a gift to those of us who usually have to grit out teeth and endure these types of ‘events’.

It also serves as something of a history lesson for the less well informed. As an example, you thought that the Cuban Missile Crisis (if you thought of it at all, which is unlikely, considering how long ago it was) arose from the US and the USSR waving their dicks at each other, casting long shadows over the happy totalitarian nation of Cuba, and leading the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. What you didn’t realise is that it happened because of a bunch of goddamn mutants.

Rating:

Super 8

Super 8

Yeah, based on this poster, I thought the flick was about haunted oil rigs

dir: J. J. Abrams

Homage to the 70s, homage to old cameras, homage to Steven Spielberg? Do any of these things really need to be honoured and celebrated? The 70s isn’t exactly the forgotten decade, the Super 8 camera is missed by no-one with a half decent mobile, and Steven Spielberg has made more money at the box office than Jesus and is plenty celebrated by Hollywood and all its legions of sycophants.

So what worthy thing is J.J. Abrams really bringing to the table? He’s made a summer blockbuster aping elements of Spielberg’s early blockbusters, except he has access to a whole bunch of CGI and a cast of people pretending to be characters from ET and That 70s Show. And in which gentle world worth living in is any of that necessary or ever desirable?

None. When younger directors honour the most well rewarded and celebrated directors of all time, it’s kind of like having a fund raising pass-the-hat around in honour of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett: like they’ve not had enough payola and praise already over the decades?

Rating:

Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids

So many ways this is about Employees of the Weak

dir: Miguel Arteta

I have never been to Cedar Rapids. It’s very unlikely that I’m ever going to go to Cedar Rapids. It is in Iowa, in the States, after all. It’s not like anyone should ever go to Cedar Rapids, because it seems to be the city equivalent of the colour beige.

But I very much enjoyed watching this flick called Cedar Rapids.

Deceptive title. It’s not about Cedar Rapids. It’s about a somewhat strange but mostly harmless chap called Tim (Ed Helms), who’s led a very sheltered life thus far. He’s not a manchild like the majority of the manchild arrested development shitbirds who populate the majority of movies these days. But he is someone who has lived a fairly quiet life, who has never travelled and who has never wanted to.

In some ways he’s like the main character from The Truman Show except without thousands of conspiring people and millions of dollars worth of artifice keeping him ground down and in place for ratings and product placement opportunities.

Rating:

Rango

Rango

I think Johnny Depp's aging okay, for such an old man

dir: Gore Verbinski

I guess it was inevitable, but it still comes as something of a surprise. Considering the extra cost slapped on tickets for 3D flicks at the cinema, one day a studio was going to decide that it was a safe bet to make a CGI animated flick for adults.

I don’t mean like a 3D porno CGI animated flick for the cinemas, which would probably be as eye-gouging as it sounds. I mean a flick that has all the cutting edge visual effects stuff, but a screenplay no kid on this planet could give a fuck about.

Rango is as much Western homage as it is a testament to the power of Johnny Depp. To a lesser extent, it’s also a testament to Gore Verbinski’s sway, being able to convince a studio to sink a shitload of money into something kids would find duller than vegetables and algebra.

Rating:

Thor

dir: Kenneth Branagh
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More comic book movies. More Marvel comic book movies! See, the waddling Comic Book Guys of the world don’t have enough to entertain themselves with and bitch about across the vast expanse of the tubes of the internets already.

There weren’t enough goddamn Spider-Men, Supermen, X-Men, Iron Men, Batmen, Hulk Men, Man Men flicks out there stinking up the joint as it was?

Of course it’s never going to end because the golden age continues. They make billions of dollars, and they convince grown adults to buy merchandise for themselves to put on their desks at work, without the least amount of shame or reluctance. That’s a fucking money spinner, that is. Comic book franchises make money rain from the skies, so it makes sense that the Microsoft of the comics world, being Marvel, invested a shitload of money setting up their own studio to make these delightful and delicious flicks themselves with greater regularity and with more direct profits to themselves.

And thus, Marvel Studios brings us The Mighty Thor!

As tempted as I am to keep ripping the shit out of them and this flick just for the mere fact of their lazy existence, I’m not going to. Mostly, I’m not going to because I actually enjoyed Thor, ridiculous as that seems. Embarrassing as it might be.

Rating:

Fast and Furious 5

dir: Justin Lin
[img_assist|nid=1423|title=Let's rub our bursting-with-steroids muscles against each other, why not? Hey, where are you going?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=375|height=447]
Wow, five movies in, this series must have some serious foundations to it. It must have deep and complex dramatic character trajectories, resonant symbolism and references extending back over the collective 10 hours or so of Fast and the Furious mythology that audiences have come to crave and demand. People don’t just want Fast Furious flicks, they’re threatening to overthrow the Empire if they don’t get their Fast Furious fix every few years.

Or maybe, just like any bad thing that keeps coming back like a brain craving zombie, they just keep coming back because they are tremendously, inexplicably liked by audiences and they want to eat our delicious brains.

I can’t really say whether this is a good Fast Furious flick, better than the others, or worse. I’ve seen them all but can recall very little about any of their plots or what the point of any of it was apart from having people race cars very fast and yell at each other loudly in moments where men in love with each other can’t express their emotions in positive ways, so they bump each other’s chests and threaten each other.

Rating:

Scream 4

The only thing that should really die is this franchise

dir: Wes Craven

There doesn’t need to be a Scream 4. It doesn’t need to exist. Then again, you could argue that any number of things don’t need to exist, that do exist. Instant coffee. Pancake hotdogs. The Royal Family. Syphilitic chancres. Syphilitic Royals.

Scream 4 has as much right to exist as any other crappy flick trading on a franchise’s name to justify its own existence. Look, we live in a world where there are seven or eight Saw films, five Superman flicks. Hell, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants got a sequel. Alvin and the Chipmunks got a sequel, called The Squeakquel. People keep making them, people keep watching them, they keep making money, I keep reviewing them, and the Circle of Crapulence rolls on.

I watched Scream 4 with the same jaded eye that I watched any of the preceding flicks in the series. They’re all as good or as bad as each other (in that they’re all pretty crap, except perhaps for the first one, which was slightly less crap) and as such even a horror fan has difficulty differentiating them from any of the other flicks where people are killed in order of annoyingness over the course of 90 minutes, until one person survives, and the status of a sequel is left open in some way.

Rating:

Hanna

Awfully big gun for such a little girl

dir: Joe Wright

This is an odd film, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. Far from it. It’s actually much better than it has any right to be.

The oddest thing about it is that I was sure it must have been directed by Tom Tykwer, the German director responsible for the decent flick Run Lola Run, and the tremendous flick Perfume. But, no. It’s Joe Wright, responsible for the ordinary version of Pride and Prejudice with that bony hag Keira Knightley, and that great version of Atonement with all those other good actors including that bony hag Keira Knightley.

Hanna has him venturing into unknown, yet ultimately familiar territory. The real point of the flick doesn’t become obvious until the Brothers Grimm fairy tale allusions start piling up like a sink full of stinky dishes until you can’t ignore them anymore.

The Hanna of the title, Saoirse Ronan, is a very young, alien looking creature. She either looks like an Aryan superchild, or one of the more grown up children from the Village of the Damned. She hunts and survives in the icy wilds of some place. Out of goddamn nowhere, some bearded lunatic (Eric Bana) starts trying to kill her dead. She’s pretty well trained in lethal hand-to-hand combat, though, and she holds her own.

Rating:

Hobo With a Shotgun

Hobo shotgun

No, it's not from 30 years ago! It's fresh and rotten today!

dir: Jason Eisener
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We see a lot of films that were filmed in Canada. It’s cheaper for nearly every single goddamn American tv series and movie to be filmed there. We don’t see that many Canadian films, though. They’re rare. Rare as teeth in Saskatoon.

What are even rarer are Canadian films from Halifax, Nova Scotia. When was the last time you heard of a flick filmed in Halifax or Dartmouth?

Never, that’s when. And from the looks of this film, there’s a very good reason for it.

At first I thought the setting of the flick was some post-apocalyptic wasteland. Then I realised that that’s what Halifax must look like all the time.

In the flick it’s called Hope Town, but, in a stunning example of irony, there’s barely any hope at all for the good citizens of Hope Town. Ruled as they are by a strange man who calls himself The Drake who seems not to do much apart from kill people randomly in the streets, their town has degenerated into an ugly cesspool. Or, alternatively, it is raising itself up to the status of an ugly cesspool.

He has two annoying sons called Slick and Ivan, actors so bad I refuse to look their names up, who yell every line of dialogue they have, and who also kill random people in the street. The police, for reasons never really explained, not only turn a blind eye to the excesses of these morons, they actively help them in their endeavours, because, I guess, they’re deranged morons as well.

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Paul

dir: Greg Mottola

[img_assist|nid=1414|title=Aliens walk among us. And they're very rude|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=666]
This flick is a perfect storm of nerd signposts and signifiers so nerdish in their nerdishness that it’s akin to watching a table full of Comic-Book Guys playing with their Magic the Gathering cards, drinking Pepsi Max straight from the bottle for an hour and a half.

However, before you suspect that I’m going to go for cheap and easy laughs mocking the indefensible, and an easy pop cultural target at that, let me just say that I am a fairly nerdy person myself (as are all people who obsessively watch movies and complain about them on the tubes of the internets, let’s be honest about it), so the question for me is whether Paul is a tolerable movie because of its nerdiness or in spite of it.

Well, the two are inseparable, really. Since its two lead characters are nerds playing nerds (quite deftly, I might add), and it’s a homage to the science fiction flicks of the 1980s (mostly, though Close Encounters was earlier), and one of its main characters is a CGI alien, you can’t really grade it on its Shakespearean qualities or its Byronic pathos.

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Source Code

dir: Duncan Jones
[img_assist|nid=1410|title=No, I don't have any spare change, sorry|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=449|height=299]
Singer and national treasure Paul Kelly had the violent alcoholic’s lament If I Could Start Today Day Again, reincarnation-believers base their whole religious-spiritual existence on the allowance of do-overs, and computer game players long have known the joy of getting another chance (depending on how many lives you have left) to make things right.

They all come from the same source, they all appeal to the same part of us that wishes the universe could allow for multiple chances to get things right. If we could just have one more shot, if we could only have replayed some moment from our lives, and done something right, then everything else would have worked out right. If only…

Well, our universe doesn’t work like that, but our art does, so when a science fiction flick comes along based around that very idea, then we’re supposed to be throwing our hands up in hallelujahs at the chance to bask in the warming glow of wish fulfilment with Jake goddamn Gyllenhaal as our stand-in.

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Drive Angry

Drive Angry

He looks confused or bemused more than angry. Maybe that can
be the sequel? I'd go see Drive Slightly Bemused. I would.

dir: Patrick Lussier

Drive Angry. Drive Angry 3D, no less. A film that, in any just universe, would have been the last 3D flick ever made, because it finally displayed in a definitive form just how wretched and pointless the format is.

This isn’t a just universe we live in, though, as you should well know by now. According to this flick, however, there is some kind of eternal balance sheet at work, with debits and credits just itching to be calculated.

If you want to know whether it’s possible for you to enjoy this flick, this is the litmus test for you: the premise of the flick is that a bad, bad man called John Milton (Nicolas Cage) breaks out of Hell in order to save his granddaughter from some loathsome cultists. They never explain how, but they just explained why.

If you’re the kind of person who then sits there in the cinema muttering under your breath “Well, how the fuck did he get out?”, perpetually dissatisfied and disgruntled because of that lack of crucial explanation, then nothing that comes after will seem at all tolerable. No manner of shootings or blood spattered breasts will satisfy that niggling voice in your head with such a mindset.

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Battle Los Angeles

dir: Jonathan Liebesman
[img_assist|nid=1406|title=Who'd have thought all it would take is a bit of flung porridge and naughty words to bring it down?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=664]
Finally, Shakycam has come of age. It’s been a long, agonising adolescence, but this most painful of weapons in the director’s / cinematographer’s arsenal is now constituting the entire running length of goddamn movies. Even the opening titles get to squiggle and spaz around like a meth addict with no meth, money or people to blow for money.

Eh, it’s not so bad. Depending on the venue, I find that if I sit far enough back from the screen, instead of being actively aggravating, it’s just a mild irritant at worst and a confusing blur at best. Far enough in this context is right up the back against the goddamn wall.

World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles is the full title of the flick, apparently, which seems to imply that if it’s successful enough, an entire series of World Invasion flicks will ensue. World Invasion: Battle Morwell, World Invasion: Battle Ulan Bator and World Invasion: Battle Yackandandah are doubtless on the cards if the right return on investment is achieved. Considering the fact that much of the flick looks like it was filmed on someone’s mobile phone, and that the aliens themselves look like they were created on a Commodore 64 computer, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to break even.

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