Archive for March, 2011
2.5 Stars out of 4
Hobo With A Shotgun does everything one would expect of a grindhouse film, but some of those reasons is why it is not quite the good stuff. It feels too long and it is only 86 minutes. It is annoyingly violent and that is the point. With this movie, it all depends how much outrageousness you are willing to tolerate. Hobo’s premise is simple: his town (which was filmed in Nova Scotia) is inundated with a family of maniacs who severe heads using manholes and inhale cocaine as an analgesic. This hobo has got his hands full.
So don’t mistake this film as Gnomeo and Juliet because it won’t just be the lack of 3D that surprises you. This film is so ridiculous it shames the sick mind of Eli Roth. This film is more inventive though and the most impressive part of it is the lighting and saturated filters used to make the scenery like cotton candy. That was probably subterfuge to bring out the ooze of the blood. (continue reading…)
2.5 Stars out of 4
There’s a time in every film critic’s life when they fall for pure fetishized schlock like Sucker Punch. It lacks the garish bite of 300, but it is damn fun. Watching some foxy viragos beat some ass in World War One, Medieval, and Futuristic settings is the arousing aesthete. This makes for some fine, gritty action scene-juxtaposition marking a female’s role in such cataclysms that would be phallic symbols to the 300 Spartans. Oh, look at me talk like this.
No, I’m not going to call Sucker Punch exactly “good” trash. But it finds its territory between abysmal cinephilia and glorious nonsense. The plot does not have the stamina of a two-hour movie and does fall into repetition, which is why director Zack Snyder does slow-motion to make the rockets and explosions seem like gentle rain and the girls’ strutting like the march of the amazons. This is all pretentious style, but style nonetheless. (continue reading…)
.5 Stars out of 4
Is it fitting to say I felt like I was slowly drowning during Sanctum? After each frame, you feel a shortness of breath, gasping for one molecule of quality. The film, shot in ‘glorious’ 3D, creates nothing majestic about the bottom of the caves and makes it more a dungeon for the audience. It drags on for almost two hours, with not a whippersnapper of sympathy for these lame-brain characters.
It’s not the actors’ fault - well maybe it is - as director Alister Grierson has no ability to create build up. Each scene looks like a disneyland shrine set up in the studios and the 3D only reminds us how plastic the rocks are. Each action scene comes and goes like a bad cough and the characters yell some cliché lines as if to make us care. (continue reading…)
4 Stars out of 4
“This isn’t Dallas, this is Nashville. They can’t do this to us here in Nashville! Let’s show them what we’re made of. Come on everybody, sing! Somebody, sing!”
Those words are the final cries and pleads of Robert Altman’s Nashville, a tragic musical painted in the facade of happiness. This is a musical that seems nonexistent today, where people sing in a fake cordial tone when actually exposing their inner depression. Every tune in Nashville is a soulful commentary, nowhere close to the likes of Brecht buy layered in its own gap of reality.
Director Robert Altman (Shortcuts) tells Nashville, a sad, enjoyable, long, but breathless and triumphant piece of cinema, through 40 different stories using 24 actors. His films, Nashville most notably, are known for the ensemble to create this semblance of blissful community and friendly interaction. Sometimes Altman goes so far out of his way to unite his actors, he’ll have a car pile up. Nothing like ensemble in a pile up. (continue reading…)
1.5 Stars out of 4
Law Abiding Citizen is a treacherous experience that makes no sense and says very little. Its moments of peace involve the scene of a cello rehearsal that is basically used to stifle all the noise. This is a loud mess that pays off in the most simplest, cheapest, and unfulfilling way. This is a film that’s script is not clever enough to make a smart thriller. Forget about it.
It stars Gerard Butler as the sneering, morose Clyde Shelton. The poor guy loses his wife and child from two house invaders in the very opening frame. In fact it happens so quickly we have barely adjusted in our chairs and tasted our popcorn. So the remainder of the film talks a lot about law, abiding, the citizens, the loop holes in the system, and how justice needs some damn justice. (continue reading…)
3.5 Stars out of 4
I started to watch Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy late at night. After almost an hour, I fell asleep and felt unimpressed. What was it all about? The next morning, I finished it and was riveted. It transformed through my dreams.
I say that unpretentiously because Kiarostami has been called a filmmaker who causes his audiences to “sleep during his films and dream about them afterward.” I think that is because Kiarostami does not answer our questions and inspires our thoughts. He hates reaction shots and loves to show what isn’t often seen. Boring? No way. It is intoxicating how Kiarostami creates his ambiguities and shoots the action as if they are reflections in a mirror. (continue reading…)
2.5 Stars out of 4
The ego is the man’s most deadly weapon. Prescription drugs are our best friend. That is the essential low-down of Limitless, a film that could have been much better if it was smarter. It needed to use one-hundred percent of its brain, instead it used maybe ten percent. Nevertheless, there is a fascination. It is interesting to see what can happen when man becomes perfect. That is a frightening but dramatic thought.
The rising action star Bradley Cooper, who flexed his muscles in The A-Team, plays failing writer Eddie, who just needs a break. He runs into his ex-brother-in-law (Eddie calls that “the most useless friend”). You would think so but this chum introduces Eddie to a lifesaver. Not the candy, but some hallucinatory savour pill called NZT. It accesses all channels of the brain and provides it with a metropolis of wisdom. Suddenly, Eddie can remember forgotten memories, collect information from books through merely scanning them, and become fluent in various languages in minutes. (continue reading…)
3 Stars out of 4
I’m not sure where the lincoln was, but Brad Furman’s The Lincoln Lawyer is stellar but light enjoyment. A film about the law life, which does not hone in on the dynamics or paper work of the lawyer, but moral conflict. We usually look at a Defense Attorney as an immoral, corrupt, and inconsiderate person. In conventional movies, we see them crouched over in their chair and growling like rabid dogs.
The Lincoln Lawyer is conventional through every step, but there must be no objection to Matthew McConaughey, who plays Mickey Haller, an example of this aforementioned “rabid dog.” He moves about Los Angeles via lincoln, with his chauffeur Earl (Laurence Mason). Haller has a biker gang who are his clients and guardian (Hell’s) angels. He uses them as protection. But when Haller is not dealing with bikers, he is being hired by assumed child killers, rapists, and serial killers and meant to stand and face the jury, proclaiming their innocence. (continue reading…)
2 Stars out of 4
A trip to Comic-Con is a good way to start off Paul, the new film by Greg Mottola (Superbad). It has some terrestrial aliens Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) – from Britain – enjoying a comic-book infested road trip across the stars and stripes. Then they will soon meet an extra terrestrial alien, Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who like all alien species, need to get back to their spaceship.
So we do not exactly have a ‘plot’ in Paul. There’s a mission for these British earthlings to bring Paul to salvation away from the FBI, but like in most screwball, plots die fast. Prepare yourself for a series of skits – er – scenarios that mostly remind us that the script needed a couple more hours in the tweaking room. (continue reading…)
4 Stars out of 4
Bicycle Thieves is a simple masterpiece. To bloat it into a film of big messages, learned-transforming characters, and schematic symbolism would minimize its power. It was released in 1948, by a well-respected director, Vittorio De Sica, most notable for his Chaplinesque comedies. To see Bicycle Thieves then would be a jolting wake up call – it was for De Sica. It defines 1940s Italy as a highly populated tragedy. Sometimes all we have are our cherished possessions. Cue the bicycle.
It was written by a venerable Italian wordsmith – Cesare Zavattini – and starred an amateur – Lamberto Maggiorani, playing the hustling and bustling Ricci, working with a regular queue. This is a story about a man’s transition from loss of property to loss of awareness to loss of happiness to loss of dignity. In case you do not get it, he loses everything. It is a frightening thought for 1948, even though Europe had just been through a cataclysm that did quite just that. (continue reading…)