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6 stars

Bourne Supremacy, The

dir: Paul Greengrass
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Finally, a film made by crack addicted monkeys with ADD for crack addicted monkeys with ADD! Be careful. You could go into this film without any recognisable neurological condition, and come out of it having contracted the epilepsy shared by the director and editor of this here film, The Bourne Supremacy. Kinda like the manner in which watching Disney films eventually leads to diabetes. And, let's face it, arse cancer.

It's true I tell you. The Bourne Supremacy is the apotheosis, the crowning pinnacle of the cinematic movement that now graces our screens with spastic creations that possess nothing but momentum. You
don't so much watch these movies, in my case, as endure them. The editing here would fill the people responsible for Moulin Rouge with jealousy and murderous rage. For the majority of the movie's running
time, few shots actually went for more than 3 to 8 seconds. There were a handful of scenes that may have gone for 15 seconds, but they were in the distinct minority.

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Libertine, The

dir: Laurence Dunmore
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Talking directly to the camera, John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, tells us that we will not like him. We won’t like him because he is a thoroughly naughty chap, and he’s up for it all the time, with the ladies and the fellas. He tells us this, talking straight to the camera, forewarning us to be prepared for just how much of a libertine he truly is.

Oh, what a rascal. And he’s played by Johnny Depp. Wearing a wig recalling the heady days of hair metal bands from the 80s. Of course they don’t believe the opening pronouncement, and they don’t really expect us to believe it either.

Of course we’re meant to like him. He’s Johnny Depp, for Christ’s sake. He can make women from great-grandmothers to trembling girlie-girls weak in the knees and wet in the gusset. And he makes grown men question their sexuality. Whether he plays the swishy pirate in Pirates, or the cross-dressing director in Ed Wood, or kiddie-fiddler J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland, he is respected for his choice in film roles, for the quality of his acting and is almost universally adored for his charming good looks and roguish ways.

It’s enough to make you vomit with rage and envy.

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Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

dir: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
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There’s something simultaneously engaging and repellent about a documentary where three of the titans of metal, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett act like bitchy teenage girls. They might be squillionaires, their band could be the biggest metal band of all time, but they’re still incapable of speaking to each other like adults.

I guess they have no need to be adults anyway. When you’re that rich, who needs maturity or reasonableness to get along with other people? You can hire assistants to do everything you need, PR people to handle your fuckups and indiscretions, and psychiatrist super coaches to hand-hold you through every emotionally difficult moment.

Well, it becomes a problem when your band and your management are desperate for another trip to the money well for another hefty load of the cold, hard green. That desire to get paid ensures every step needs to be taken in order to guarantee the product is finally pumped out, even when that product should probably have never seen the light of day in the first place.

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Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The

dir: Wes Anderson
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Whilst watching one of Anderson’s films, you really have to wonder who he thinks the audience is for the magic that he serves up. Tis clearly not a guy aiming to pack out the multiplexes and get Armageddon or Passion of the Christ’s Comeback Special-kind of ticket sales. I wonder if he even really cares about the audiences that watch his films, because thus far the only audience I can figure out that he aims his movies at is himself.

Which is a good thing, at least theoretically. So many movies are pumped out that are purely a product, a unit almost identical to the previous unit with slight variations to give the illusion of choice. It’s rare in the course of a given year to see a genuinely individual film: one that is recognisable as the work of a person with a singular vision. Of the six hundred or so films that are released each year, in the end it’s these ones that you remember the most, whether they’re good or bad.

This hardly means that people should sell their firstborns and their puppies to get the required fundage in order to be able to buy multiple tickets to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I find it hard to believe that there could really be a lot of people out there that would find a film like this that enjoyable.

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Coffee and Cigarettes

dir: Jim Jarmusch
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The amazing, contradictory nature of art is that much of the time it
is simultaneously crucial and pointless. Even at its best art is
ultimately superfluous. Blasphemy, you think. Hypocrisy, as well,
especially from someone who styles themselves an artist (by way of
being a writer). But hear me out: no-one having a heart attack ever
had their life saved by having the Mona Lisa applied to their chest
instead of those electrical things that they use yelling 'Clear!'
before they do so. I know they're called defibrillators, but I didn't
want to show off. No drowning child was ever pulled out of the water
using the Sistine Chapel. You can't put a fire out with Picasso's
Guernica. And no girlfriend ever chose not to leave you because you
had a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in
your hand. Trust me it doesn't work. They just keep walking.

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Elephant

dir: Gus Van Sant
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Some people walk around. The camera follows them as they slowly amble about. They meet people, or they walk past other people who are doing stuff or doing nothing. If they get to a destination, they do something inherently banal there, and the camera captures every scintillating second of it. Every now and then, there is a time lapse shot of a sky slowly darkening, or an approaching storm.

More shots of people walking around. Banal conversations. All of this action is centered around a school. We are given people's names as the camera follows them about. Each person seems to be given a 'story',
but nothing they say or do expands our knowledge of either what's going on or what's going to happen. They're not characters, or caricatures. They're just people. Doing not much of anything. After a while, you get to see the same situations repeated from other people's point of view.

In such a context, you could say that Gus Van Sant has made a meditative film, in the sense that we are given a lot of time to think about what's going on. Nothing is really rushed, and except for the crucial element of what the central 'event' is, you eventually give up waiting for something to happen, and just wonder how much more the film can ramble.

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Dreamers, The

dir: Bernardo Bertolucci
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Sure, Bernardo Bertolucci is an acclaimed director. But like every acclaimed director, he has a bunch of stinkers to his credit as well. In such a case, you greet the release of one of his new films thinking less "Great! Another film from a cinematic master!" and more "what have you done for me lately, prick?" And since my answer to him on that topic is "not much, chuckles", it's understandable that I'd have some trepidation walking into this film.

Also curiousity. I haven't liked a Bertolucci film since The Last Emperor. It's not that I've been avoiding his work, I haven't (much to my regret). It's just the only emotions that the films in between then and now inspire in me are boredom or downright irritation. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I outright hated Besieged, Stealing Beauty, Little Buddha and especially The Sheltering Sky. In fact I would go so far as to say my greatest difficulty is in deciding which of those four I hate the most, because they all anger me on different levels and for different reasons.

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Frida

dir: Julie Taymor
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This will not be the definitive account of Frida Kahlo’s life, I am sure. She’s too interesting a person and an artist to remain bound only by what is presented in this biopic as an account of her life. This film will probably do for now as a somewhat superficial precise of the life of this mercurial Mexican artist. And whilst not a terrible film, it suffers from a lacklustre and cliched script and a major confusion as to where to go halfway through the film.

The real star of this film isn’t Salma Hayek, as Kahlo. It’s not Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera, even though at times it seems as if Frida is merely co-starring in a biopic of his life. Which reminds me, how many people would have gone to see a film about notorious Mexican communist revolutionary artist Diego Rivera, simply called Diego? :) Imagine it, huge billboards above buildings, with a coy picture of chubby Alfred Molina pouting seductively into the camera, with one word writ large against the sky: “DIEGO!” Every man and his dog would be beating down the doors of the cinema, surely.

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Barbershop

dir: Tim Story
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With the recent release of its sequel I thought it was about time I caught up with a film I’d heard was pretty funny back in the dim distant reaches of the heady days of 2002. See, there aren’t many funny films out there, at least films I find funny. Sure there are stacks of comedies pumped out by the studios, but even the thought of most of them makes me want to tear my eyeballs out of their sockets using salad forks.

I was a fool to think Barbershop would be an outright comedy. It’s a treacly tv movie with something to say about tradition and community. I know this because every time any character started talking about the good ol’ days of Calvin’s barber shop and the importance of community, this drippy, cloying piano music would start up in the background. It’s very handy if you didn’t know how to feel about the scene. It’s a very convenient shortcut for those of us that couldn’t work out what our reaction was supposed to be. Thanks to the quality direction, we no longer have that worry.

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Transporter, The

dir: Louis Leterrier
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Again, I got suckered in by a goddamn tv commercial. I don't know how the marketing people keep doing it to me, but when it comes to sub-standard martial arts / gun-fu orientated films, they know just what to put in to get me interested, and there on opening day. I'm ashamed of myself.

This is a dumb film. Dumb as a box full of hammers. Dumber than a locker room full of football players. But is it big dumb fun?

The other thing that burns me about being suckered in by the trailer was the fact that there are scenes in the trailer that have been edited out of the film. And that there are obvious overdubs and cuts presumably to lower the MPAA rating as well, which is funny, though they never stooped so low as to do the "melonfarmer" substitute that I adore so much.

When the film works (which is for 30 minutes of its overall length), it's on fire. The fight scenes and various action scenes are well choreographed and Jason Statham looks suitably professionally hard when he is belting three shades of fuck out of the various bad guys. I need me some of the chewable steroids they've been feeding this guy, because he looks like a lean, corded, vicious machine. He also seems pretty good in the action sequences in terms of looking believable as a fighter.

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