Archive for January, 2011
1.5 Stars out of 4
The most disappointing thing about Little Fockers is that it is not about its title. If there is a shred of reason for this threequel to be made is for it to be about children and for everyone, all us very impatient audiences. The two little Fockers – Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi) - are just puerile nuisances, who are onlookers of the ‘drama’. They’re convenient enough to speak a dreadfully unfunny one-liner and then we cut to a closeup of Jack Byrnes’ (Robert De Niro) eyes. If the first two films did not hammer this home, Jack’s a real intimidator.
3 Stars out of 4
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is such a gross misinterpretation of history it could not possibly be a mistake of the director’s. But part of its beauty is admiring its restrained, goofy approach, delicious confection, and licentious display. Now, do I think a French-speaking monarchy would contain actors like Steve Coogan, Rip Torn, and Asia Argento? It’s like Victor Emmanuel and Queen Elizabeth had a baby. Do I also think a life of this should be dismissed in the spectacle of gluttony? No, but it’s one way to get the message across.
1.5 Stars out of 4
I’d rather witness The Green Hornet in its comic book, radio program, or television series before watching another frame of its film adaption once again. The film is deplorable, absurdly gratuitous, unexciting, and a real mess. The 3D is no helping hand either. What we have once again is a murky, dull, and unfulfilling feature laden under the murky, dull, and unfulfilling 3D. (continue reading…)
Zero Stars out of 4
Freddy Got Fingered, a malignant piece of work, makes pornography seem like family fun and gore flicks like picnic dinners. There’s nothing more disgraceful in the world that hasn’t been seen here. The brains of this operation, or better yet cinematic lobotomy, is Tom Green from such trash like Road Trip and Stealing Harvard. He’s the culprit, the penal writer/director who deserves a very unpleasant comeuppance for this disease – that is Freddy Got Fingered. (continue reading…)
3 Stars out of 4
Reviewing movies always involves piercing enigmas, swimming around in them, and perhaps scorning them. This Film Is Not Yet Rated is about an enigma, not about movies but what judges them: the MPAA board. This organization is more clandestine than the CIA, as influential as the United States Congress, and as tedious as a bad flu. Filmmaker Kirby Dick searches for an explanation, a sliver of logic on why the MPAA refuses to allow others to create standards and just follow them. (continue reading…)
My final list recollecting on the flops and the top of the pops. These movies were the ones that either made no money or did reasonably well at the box office but no one appreciated them nearly as well as they should have been. I commend these films in that they all have an importance and relevance and speak in ways too unfamiliar to modern day audiences. The most interesting films today and perhaps always are the ones that challenge your expectations. That is also why they do so poorly. This is the crisis of modern day cinema; lest it changes, true cinema is in trouble.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
HM: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – it made no money but I certainly wasn’t sleepin’.
Chloe: I met Adam Egoyan in Toronto and he told me this (underrated) film of his was a devilish turn on eroticism – to paraphrase. That is Chloe. One that hinges on a lecherous gaze, convoluted narrative, and ambiguous storytelling. None of the characters ever earn the credence to be liked inasmuch trusted. Excluding the ending, Chloe is a delicate yet exciting film that pounces on your expectations and explains most prominently: Chloe does not find something to love in everybody, but something to obsess about. The audiences were not smiling at this film, but I’m sure Hitchcock would. Nevertheless, I scoffed in discord when a critic remarked about the film: “You can call it fromage but it’s still cheese.” (continue reading…)
I enjoyed many acclaimed films this year, but there were some that left me cold. I kept thinking during these movies: why does everyone love these flicks? It is a terrible feeling enduring a movie sensing you are not comprehending its message or brilliance. These films relate to this precise dilemma. My only goal is to convince you why so many loved these films and why I looked in the other direction.
5. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: This movie had the semblance as if sitting in a room with a bunch of stoners – no matter what is said, they are always laughing more than you are and you’re not sure why. Scott Pilgrim is very inventive in that it is not about finding the girl and getting the girl back, but it is about getting her then kicking the crap out of her begrudging boyfriends. The film was shot in Toronto, which attracted the Canada crowd. What Canadian folk can enjoy are spotting out the notable landmarks; it is a nice distraction from the film as it spins its wheels.
4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: I’ve seen Stieg Larsson’s books in Chapters and I cringed. I’m sure these posthumous novels are deft and well-written, but the films are long and lethargically paced. The Millennium Trilogy was directed by Daniel Alfredson and Niels Arden Oplev. They have casted this noir film in a plethora of murkiness. By the end of the film you just want some daylight! Noomi Rapace is the highlight of this film; she’s an enigma of the tarnished angel: terse, explosive, and subtle. But she is always holding a grimace in these movies – it reflects my weariness and utmost disappointment. I’ll wait for the Fincher remake fine thanks.
3. The Fighter: This boxing has been poorly misconceived by all audiences and critics. The Fighter has an assertive style, it moves, and it interests. However, it plots on the incorrect focus. It is so determine on explaining how everyone influences Micky (Mark Wahlberg) that we never get a sense of his character. By the end, when the predictable ending emerges we feel very little because Micky does not become a fighter but an object of his surroundings – the punching bag. If you have seen Raging Bull, Scorsese was intent on making it a character study in which all of Jake’s (Robert De Niro) influence were his punching bags. His inability to parry his emotional punches was his most pungent flaw. Funny enough, the one critic to agree precisely with me is Roger Ebert. Like me, he’s a religious Scorsese connoisseur too. You see where I’m getting it?
2. How To Train Your Dragon: I rolled my eyes when I first saw the poster to this film. Then, on the film aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, HTTYD was merited 98%! Did director Chris Sanders slip something in Rotten Tomato’s drink? Ok, the animation is stellar, the 3D works well for once. Well those dragons fly in the air, there is an uplifting feeling that reminds you of that exhilarating airborne intensity. Once again, this is another mishmash of Dances With Wolves and Avatar, under a run time that felt tediously long and was not (92 minutes). Amongst the story the character development is devoid, the plot is contrived and too cute, and all the dragons are just blowing smoke. Well, they are!
1. The Kids Are All Right: I write these words cringing. I was amazed how underwhelmed I was by a film sure to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. What we have is a movie that is self-contained, powerful in parts, and tremendously well-acted. Not only does it elucidate the details of a same-sex marriage, but it delves into the awkwardness of family ties and the angst of teenage curiosity. Are the kids all right? The characters are more than the film, which becomes dramatically orotund and cliché in the second half. The middle twist in the story begets no justice to the characters and explains nothing interesting there is needed to know. Suddenly, the kids are thrusted out of the story, the script becomes schmaltzy and arch. Ergo, the kids just become ‘all right.’
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
3 Stars out of 4
After decades of torturing conventions, Jean-Luc Godard has perhaps delivered his swan song – Film Socialism. It’s not one that is life altering, but his film is a good one – the last final cry and aggressive style of a director fighting against all cinematic discourse. Once again he will drive you nuts. His films are not kaleidoscopes, they do have a linear progression: it’s a tale of three symphonies, moving together in harmony but backlashing conventions through a style that wrings similarities to Godard’s somewhat better Made In U.S.A. (continue reading…)
Now for the dreaded worst films of 2010. I always pretend to be galled by cultivating such a list, but I cannot deny the underlying pleasure that accompanies me. This is where I get to wreak havoc on the films that wasted my time and perhaps yours too. Why do we watch these films? The most warranted reason is that it allows us to appreciate the great ones and value life – how precious the time it offers truly is.
Dishonourable Mentions: The Bounty Hunter, The A-Team, and The Losers, and Edge of Darkness.
10. The Wolfman: Unavailing at the box office, earning only 139 million on a 150 million dollar budget, The Wolfman is a deadly bore. Its Victorian pastiche seems to coincide with a Bronte novel and Fritz Leiber fantasy. There is nothing here: dull performances, laughable special effects, an enervating romance, and a climax that rolls over to a halt. The film feels uncomfortably long and calls to our attention that Benicio Del Toro, as prolific as he is, is no Lon Chaney, Jr.
9. The Human Centipede: Admittedly I gave this 1 star, which is merited worse than the others to be mentioned. However, I have an affection for the film’s originality and risks – that ultimately blows up in its face. In a merely cinematic aspect, the movie is an atrocity. It’s one of the most dumbest, pointless, and tiresome films of all time. It grosses us out in the exact same way and it will make you sick numerously but not for emotive reasons. What the film did that vexed me was that if you read the title, you’ve seen the movie.
8. Remember Me: What is saccharine and painfully manipulative, Remember Me takes an actor and an actress and puts them in situations that evoke little reactions from us. Remember Me feels like a cheap sitcom imbued with this feeling of drippy melancholy and then abrupt shifts to silly inspiration. The ending will make you gawk, cringe, and run to the exit. Well, it’d be too late, as your 110 minutes would have already been robbed by a film that begs to be remembered. But why should we?
7. The Back-Up Plan: What looks like a warm and delightful romantic comedy, plunders into a dreadful and overlong haul. Jennifer Lopez looks maybe a sliver sharper than her Gigli days, but what could be a completely approachable character is muddled in a film that fails to take any of its serious, personal themes to heart. These are pretty people looking pretty, but I assure you the film is no beauty. Trust me, you’d rather give birth.
6. Grownups: It is hard to believe these five actors (Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James) are actual comedians. What could attract the adult crowd becomes unfit and criminally repulsive to anyone else. It is a bunch of cruel, snide comedians manipulating slapstick and provoking offensive reactions that do not make these friends, but adversaries. We can relate.
5. The Last Airbender: Deep below there is a movie here. Well, just like with Earth, deep below there is a core. And that is very, very far. But disagree with me all you want (I doubt you will). Go to the theatre for the action and become galled. Especially when the film bends, pulls, pleads, and the climax arrives. Or is it a climax? I don’t know. It could have fooled me. The 3D did. I am sure this will be the last airbender as I am sure M. Night knows that our sixth sense for his films instils utter tedium.
4. A Nightmare On Elm Street: My first reactions were if this film tries to create horror out of the spectacle of others falling asleep, our reactions may be the same. This soporific bore fest is visually possessive yet it inspires if anything a few cheap one-liners from a villain that cultivates no background and interest from us. There is a story in here I am sure – one incorporating sophomoric surrealism that makes Nightmare On Elm Street the avant-garde of terrible.
3. Devil: Lest you enjoyed The Last Airbender, this M. Night written film will shock and amaze you – in all the wrong ways. This is backwash, scutwork, noise, tedium galore. Not exactly assured what the twist is meant to provoke. Devil is more of a comedy stage in an elevator than an actual horror film. We barely get to know anything about these banal characters and yet the story is suppose to unman you. Forget it! Devil is just another trial and terribly error experiment that essentially involves the spectator being isolated in an elevator with a hopeless writer desperately searching for some engaging, non-derivative material.
2. Cop Out: I predicted this would make my number one worst of the year. Despite its tough defeat to a more profoundly malignant piece of carbon, Cop Out still evaporates before our eyes as watch a talented director wrestle with material already stretched out on the canvas. It wants to be that Beverly Hills Cop, maybe even that jocular Lethal Weapon. Instead the film serves up a lethal amount of stoicism and interest that spirals downhill. Cop out does exactly what its title promises. If it makes you happy Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis I am convinced made a bundle. All we’re doing is cashing out.
1. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore: After watching this film (or at least half of it, I walked out), I started to question if every movie deserves an honest trial. But not this one. What I concluded is that it did move, there was sound, there was colour, yet I stared off into a void, one with no meow or any bark or bite. I believe what I wanted was a movie, instead I got a lump of industry teeming with fake animals and lame gags. Next time I will be sure to bring the catnip – the popcorn tasted blander by the second.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!…I almost hope you saw none of these!
Unlike last year, this has been a solid year for films. From the rise of the treacherous 3D to the mainstream, yet pensive immersion of dreams within dreams within dreams, 2010 has had much to offer. Mostly good, some very bad. But to start, allow me to show you MY best films of 2010 – not necessarily the Oscar masterpieces or the Citizen Kane facsimiles, the films that left a mark on me.
Honorable Mentions: The American, Chloe, 127 Hours, and Exit Through The Gift Shop
10. The King’s Speech: Yes it is pure Oscar-bate and yes it plots conventionally, but Tom Hooper directs with vibrance and excitement. Even so, Colin Firth transcends his role in A Single Man as George VI and Geoffrey Rush collaborates with equal talent. It is a moving story about a royal figure finding his inner power rather than exercising his obliged one. This will win Best Picture at this coming Academy Awards. You mark my words.
“I like your style. A little Bowie, a little Bardot, and a look on your face that says I could kick the shit out of a truck driver.” A fairly quotable movie that goes the right route: the Hardcore one.
9. The Runaways: Okay, so the film’s a mess. That’s partly why I loved The Runaways. It has little focus and captures the hectic, bombastic “Women’s Libido” inspired by this band. Dakota Fanning is the promiscuous yet innocent Cherry Bomb Cherie Curry and Kristen Stewart as the confused and rebellious Joan Jett, who whizzed along to be a Rock n Roll queen. This film has grit and power – and it is damn fun.
8. Animal Kingdom: I’ve gotten over my desperate comparison to this as The Godfather. It does zone in on the honour and mere oppression of family, but this Aussie Crime thriller is less on a plot and an insane builder of suspense. Jackie Weaver I felt made this film as the intimidating yet warm welcoming mother. The thing is Animal Kingdom feels like being hunted in a jungle – you can almost hear the quiet.
7. Black Swan: Easily the most audacious film of the year and sure to guarantee Natalie Portman a nomination for Best Actress. The film has fire, paranoia, and a searing amount of illusional-delusional surrealism. It is about a ballet dancer’s quest for perfection, but is paradoxical in the sense that her dreams are not intonations of her perfection, but disorienting and imperfect nightmares. Portman’s character is not one that changes but morphs under a bestial intimate drive.
6. The Ghost Writer: Polanski made this film under house arrest. Here he creates a film modest in its story and display. But it is seriously intense and compelling, providing political and social commentary on the lives of its characters and their obsessive ambitions. The film underlies a cry of immediacy and suspense, a fitting homage to the harrowing life of this great director. The last shot is enough to shatter us and put us in a state of wonder and excitement, just how Inception’s closing shot did too.
5. Inception: Speaking of which, Nolan’s latest mind trip does not toy with surrealism as much as it manipulates pure entertainment with ruminative concepts and a thoroughly original approach to the inexplicable phenomenon of dreams. The film hurdles along its 150 minute run time by getting deeper and deeper into its world and insistent on expanding the action to all places. Nolan’s a prodigious filmmaker, inasmuch a complex provocateur.
4. Rabbit Hole: It’s about the insulation from grief. A husband and wife, who lost their son, search for different ways to seek salvation – from each other and all else. By the end, we are not sure if nothing much else is learned. Maybe, in spite of their loss, they could at least pretend to be happy. J.C. Mitchell directs conventionally, but Rabbit Hole is a rare beauty. Kidman without question deserves a nomination – her intuitive approach to the distraught mother is so pure it is naturalistic.
3. Enter The Void: It is going to polarize many and those who it pleases may not have the chops to merit this one of the year’s best. However, Enter The Void takes no cinematic convention prisoner and tells a story with an alluring omniscience that emits pathos and fascination. Gaspar Noe’s visual dynamic is vigorous and exciting – self-indulgent? Perhaps, but it is one of many ways it achieves its transgressive beauty and more visceral understanding on the power and potential of cinema.
“I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?” — What may be the monologue of the year from Eisenberg’s acerbic, duplicitous Mark Zuckerberg.
2. The Social Network: It comes close to surpassing Zodiac, but is easily the most important film of the year. Not only is the film deftly paced and easily immersive, it is well-acted by all leads, especially Jessie Eisenberg. I also want to credit Rooney Mara – the rosebud of the film, who challenged Mark Zuckerberg’s flaws to the point it drives him into complete rancour. We cannot stand him yet he defines us – us and our terribly disconnected social lattice, which ironically attempts to unite us all. What a mad world we live in.
1. A Prophet: It was nominated for Best Foreign Film at last year’s Oscars (and criminally lost to The Secret In Their Eyes – a dud). But I consider it a 2010 film because it released in Canada (my home country) at the very beginning of this year. It may in fact have been the first film I saw in 2010 – sometimes the first are the real charms. Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet is a gritty, horrifically realistic approach to prison life in France. The terrific Tahir Rahim is all innocence, whose escape from the criminal underworld is alleviated by fantasy sequences of his prophet – his first murder victim. Or is Malik (Rahim) the prophet? Either way, this is a stellar work, seriously emotional and incredibly violent. The film does not necessarily end on carnage or triumph – it is a mixed display of a tarnished life that becomes haunted, frayed, and by the end rendered superficially free.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!