Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Manos: The Film of Crap

This was by far the worst movie I haver ever watched. Conservatively I've seen at least 20,000 movies so this is no small feat for 'Manos'! The acting was so atrocious any second-rate high school production could put this film's ensemble cast to shame. I've seen more genuine emotion and expression at a church seniors BINGO game.

The plot is flimsy, pedestrian and without any depth. It does not challenge or even interest me in any way whatsoever. This is one of the few non-linear films I've seen that was unintentionally so. You could mix the scenes up and would get the same end product which still stank. Probably the worst film editing I've seen. No real thought or skill is apparent in the process.

This film's cinematography is abhorrent. No planning went into the shots, the lighting was inept; some indoor scenes lit very dark and then a few moments later the room is blazing with over exposure.

The special effects were neither special nor effective! The director had no clue what he was doing. Actors staring blankly at each other for 2 minutes takes real genius to produce :)

There are some very awful movies that have been made yet usually one can find some redeeming quality in the film. 'Manos' has no such quality! The seminal moment of action in the film when the Master's zombie beauties fight amongst themselves was devoid of any sincerity or emotional impact. They might as well have been arguing over which hair spray worked best!

This movie felt like an eternity and were it not for the humor interjected by MST3K I would have turned it off in the first few minutes. I urge you to not watch this film. Please let it die.
'Manos: The Hands of Fate' will be the gold standard by which I judge future film atrocities.

Carne trémula (1997)

I am wondering about how this film portrayed fidelity, or specifically the lack thereof! It gives the impression women in Spain will casually cheat on their husband if they feel like it. Elena did not seem to care how much it would hurt her husband and she tells him of her infidelity in a detached manner. Is this a Spanish thing? A European thing? I also noticed in several French films the French women are portrayed as hopping from bed to bed without much care or regret for the men in their lives as long as they satisfy their base carnal lusts. This is sad if true and portrays them as very shallow women. I think this is also a big problem in America. Since sex is viewed now by many as just another recreational sport. Does anyone know of modern films from Spain which portray a higher level of fidelity?

Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

 This film was a good thriller and morality play until the ending ruined it! A shame since it had a lot going for it, albeit Jamie Fox's acting was not very good (he has to be the most overrated A list actor in Hollywood!). However, the ending was so idiotic and contrived it almost ruined the movie for me. Fox went against his own principles and the lofty law to "win" (don't want to spoil it) and thus affirmed everything that Butler's character believed! Ridiculous and irresponsible. They tore down the entire psychology of the movie up to that point and all for what? I loathe director's who think they are being oh so clever with novel 'twist' endings. It just muddies their artistic integrity and the story's continuity.

Bear (2010)

I'm surprised it is averaging a rating of 4 stars on IMDB! For an ostensible thriller there was little genuine suspense or even horror. The acting was plodding and lacked any real depth or nuance. Character development was kept a bare minimum. A pair of brothers and their significant others are in a car on a trip to some steak house to celebrate someone's birthday (I had to fast forward a bit due to the extreme boredom), they go off the main roads for a short-cut, get a flat tire, the arrogant older brother shoots a young bear like 12 times with what appears to be a 9mm handgun, the mother (or father?) bear is very upset and seeks revenge. That's as far as the plot was developed. Nothing much here. At one point as they've crawled to the end of this metal pipe if you look at the left hand corner you can actually see production people shooting the film! This movie tried to do for bears what "Cujo" did for dogs and fell very flat.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Haywire (2011)

This film was in sore need of a strong stylized narrative. I attribute this to the director, Soderbergh, who is known for being heavy handed and muddy in his story telling. The storytelling was laborious and at times disjointed. Just shows you can have 4 well known and very competent actors, Douglas, Banderas, McGregor and Fassbender, who if not given a good script and proper direction will not produce a film worthy of their stature. The focus on Mallory's fighting skills (Carano is an ex MMA fighter) is one of this film's downfalls. Instead of having her take out someone with a sniper rifle and suppressor she *has* to engage in minutes of hand to hand combat and literally beat them into submission or abeyance. I do give Carano credit for taking on such a prominent acting role (she clearly needs to still grow as an actor), but since she didn't have the acting chops equal to her co-stars she should have been molded into a more minimalistic character focused tightly on her skill as a badass assassin/super agent. There's been a lot of talk comparing this film to the Bourne franchise. What Bourne had and this movie lacks is a fast paced intricate yet clearly articulated plot where all of the story arcs and even sub plots are integrated and contribute to a single intelligent narrative.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

God Bless America (2011) film review

In this film we see another false dichotomy:

Left = good, intelligent, free thinking, uber cool

Right = bad, dumb, closed minded, lame

This distillation is the sum total of the script. The writing is amateurish and so ridiculous and downright trite that I found myself laughing aloud at line after line.

Being a Leftist film, if this is the best of the so-called New Left there is nothing to fear, it couldn't resist taking a dig at Christianity (which has sadly become a popular trend for the unthinking tired comedians of our time) with the "imaginary friends" line.

This film fancies itself some deep indictment of the American psyche while it delivers nothing more than a caricature of an imagined America which is more revealing of the disturbances in the minds of the writers and liberalism in general. It could have been much more, but like much of popular discourse it cannot escape viewing the world in a binary state where either agrees with you and is worthy of blameless rightness, or disagrees and is thus a vulgar enemy to be mocked and ridiculed on every imaginable level.

This film is partisan in the worst possible way and does nothing to address the real problems we face or to posit solutions which would include meaningful dialogue, a return to the best of those traditional values the Left hate so intensely, more focus on education (we've become an unthinking nation in many ways), greater devotion to the spiritual man and less on the carnal.

By glorifying murder and showing it in such a callous and thoughtless way this film is just another nihilistic rant that rings hollow and nullifies any positive message the writers thought they were delivering. Violence without any redeeming aspect (eg. preserving another life, stopping a great evil) is the refuge of the weak minded and morally bankrupt.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Melancholia (2011) - film review

A very earnest gaze! LOL


"Melancholia" proves that a big budget means nothing in terms of the final artistic creation. It was the worst sort of disaster film I've ever seen. Even hammy B movie type films are at least enjoyable for their contrived drama, overwrought affectations and downright silly action sequences, but this film tries so hard to be taken seriously and fails.

Some reviewers have been critical of the slow pace of the film, and defenders retort that this is somehow evidence of its sophistication. I disagree with both camps. Having a slower pace is not a problem if the character's are engaging, the plot is interesting and we're made to care on some level. Also, as evidenced in "Melancholia" a slow pace is an exercise in futility if all the components don't work.

Kirsten Dunst's performance was overdone and tiresome. She is a good actress, but not a great one. Kiefer Sutherland was great in 24, but I don't think his acting style is suited to slower paced dramatic films. Or rather I should say melodramatic films which this one was. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Charlotte Gainsbourg's character's resignation to her fate was semi-believable, but the way she behaved in light of her young son's impending doom was ridiculous! Dunst spends about half of her screen time making various depressive, vacant or angst ridden facial expressions. The master of this sort of facial acting was Toshiro Mifune. With a subtle expression he could brilliantly convey an emotional state, or even several, but it was never overdone. I wish Dunst would study his films and take some lessons!

The tone of the film as a whole was pretentious. Melancholia was a Victorian term for people with depression and that's how I felt after watching this film. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Sadly this sort of film is not an anomaly for director Lars von Trier. I've never been a fan of his work, but I went into this film with an open mind and was once again disappointed. His ethics are also highly questionable, and yes I maintain this is relevant since as a director one's moral makeup has a definite impact and imprint on what you put into a film. At the last Cannes Film Festival Trier made pro-Nazi comments, saying he sympathized with Hitler. Also, he left his pregnant wife to shack up with the family babysitter who was young enough to be his daughter!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Wages of Fear (1953) - film review

"Le salaire de la peur"

This is a great film, yet it has a fatal flaw in my view. Mario, played by Yves Montand, and his close friend Jo (Charles Vanel), and others are tasked with transporting nitroglycerin (which is very unstable) to a far off site where it's needed. The plot is simple and straightforward. The richness of the film comes from the poignant drama, the three dimensional characterizations provided by the script and principal actors, the use of cut shots to convey emotional content and the use of symbolic imagery,. I strongly disagree with the Sartresque ending however. Japanese films, which are known for having the protagonist(s) die, have a rich history of self-sacrifice. Bound by a strict social code of honor, their death is given context and a meaning, even if we disagree with it. In this film however, the ending feels heavy handed and reeks of the philosophical influence of atheistic existentialism. In pushing against what they saw as the problems in Idealism they established a system of thought just as arbitrary with its own problems, which I'd contend are far worse. In this nihilistic view life and even our existence is a tragic joke, a pointless exercise where we are certain only of despair and nothingness.

There is no spiritual existence, nor even a sure epistemological foundation to rely on. In this broken ontological state man is destined for destruction without meaning. Mario is finally liberated from his materialist concerns, yet his joy was short lived and he's soon destroyed. Existentialist philosophy girds the script. A much better ending would have been for Mario to get back home and live his life, to have some measure of happiness and love, yet tempered with sorrow at the loss of his friend. But such a hopeful and life affirming conclusion is an affront to the nihilist. Some say Mario was driven to such irresponsible behavior by suicidal impulses, but I think it's clear he was compelled to demonstrate man's ultimate folly. When the truck was stuck in the oil pond Mario disregarded Jo's well being. When asked why he didn't stop Mario says that he had no choice. Also when Jo was near death in the truck and reminiscing about a fence on the street he used to live on, just moments before he dies he asks, "What was beyond the fence?" Mario answers, "Nothing." Then as Jo is literally exhaling his last few breaths his eyes grow wide and full of fear as he exclaims,"Nothing!", then dies immediately. This is akin to waving a giant red flag at us! The nihilistic message implicit in that sad exchange is so obvious. This and other little cues are peppered throughout the film and speak to the running nihilistic narrative.

Mario's exuberant, 4000 francs richer and on the way home to be reunited with Linda, yet I knew exactly what was to come. If one has read mid 20th century nihilist literature, particularly French, this ending was expected. Arnaud and Clouzot wanted this and it lessens the value of their film to a degree. A magnificent film, yet tainted by a dangerous and fatuous philosophy. The entire tortuous journey, the death of his friends, it was all for nothing. They were all destroyed and nothing was gained by it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"2012: Ice Age" (2011) - film review

This movie is a disaster! The acting is so bad I often laughed out loud at the delivery. I could write better dialogue when I was in 9th grade! The plot is very implausible and the premise is ridiculous. One would have to be wholly ignorant of science to not be incredulous.

First of all the glacier would not be speeding across the ocean no matter how big it was. If such a gigantic glacier shelf broke off (1,000 miles wide) it would have triggered a massive tsunami. The shortest over-water distance between Europe and America is 1,630 miles so if glacier will reach the eastern US coast in 19 hours it is traveling at 86mph! This is just not possible.

The Indian scientist is a complete moron, he sees explosions less than a mile away and waits until the last possible minute to take off in the helicopter. Then the fool travels along the fault line! All he has to do was fly at a 90 degree angle to the fault line and he would have been safe. Or he could have just flown higher, the helicopter was way too close to the ground. And that was an extremely powerful huge helicopter he was in so it had the power.

Julie McCullough is not aging well. I was shocked to read that she's only 45. She looks closer to 60! I remember when she was on "Growing Pains". This is what happens when you get too much sun exposure. I bet she's also a smoker. Her skin looks at least 10 years older than her age, she has dark pockets under her eyes, liver spots, tons of wrinkles, skin looks extremely dry and unhealthy! Girls if you want nice skin when you get older STAY OUT OF THE SUN and moisturize.

Their slut daughter is totally annoying. She meets her ostensible boyfriend in Manhattan and after less than 1 minute says, "Let's go back to the dorm and fool around!" Right there I have lost any sympathy for her and hope the glacier gets her! haha

When the jets fired missiles at the face of the glacier the chunks that broke off went straight up into the air! That violated several laws of physics lol.

As they drive away everything is destroyed by the glacier, yet it somehow stopped just before reaching the road?!

The son has a panicked expression for most of the movie and seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The exchange between in the car between the mother and him is hilarious. Keep in mind that he's apparently 17-18:

Nelson: Everything is gone isn't it?
Teri: Just don't even think about it alright Nelson.
Nelson: Everything. God! Friends. I need to get online!
Teri: No no. You need to focus on what's important ok.
Teri: No it's not important!

I guess Nelson wanted to check Facebook before the entire east coast is destroyed!

Their car crashing was so dumb. He knows the weather is bad so he speeds and takes his eyes off the road to talk to his wife?! They then commandeer a group home van.

Instead of being logical and telling their daughter to head south now they decide to drive 6 hours to go and pick her up. The glacier would have reached NY way before they'd even get there since it just hit Maine and is traveling at around 86mph. Idiotic!

The people in Boston are walking around and are instantly frozen in place by super cold air! lol.

We are treated to this brilliant exchange:

Julia: But what about the glacier isn't it headed straight for us?
Natl. Guardsman: Not for long. There's a combined task force on its way to meet it.
Julia: So you've declared war on a glacier?
Natl. Guardsman: That's right. It's the last chunk of the glacier and they're putting everything they have on it. Now get your asses inside before I have you arrested!

Later when they are in the Cessna flying to NJ Nelson logs into the NOAA website (user: julia, password: nelson - haha how dumb!) and informs his parents that the glacier is now moving at 200mph! HOW ABSURD!

When the cop told Teri the George Washington Bridge is out she looks at it, sees the damage and says, "Wooow." haha! Perhaps the worst acting I've ever seen on film!

No matter how congested traffic is they always find a convenient alternate route.

The snow is obviously fake.

Twice Bill expertly maneuvers the car to dodge gigantic chunks of falling glacier ice!

They take refuge in the Statue of Liberty and the massive glacier stops moving as soon as it hits the statue, but not hard enough to knock it down!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review - Body of Lies

Review of the film Body of Lies (2008) - directed by Ridley Scott

This film didn't surprise me since I already saw Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven" which was the "Pearl Harbor" (Michael Bay) of Crusader history. The reviewer who says Scott gives fair treatment of both sides must not be familiar with his work. "Kingdom of Heaven" was straight up historical revisionism and anti-Christian polemic. He is a liberal film maker (of course you can be politically liberal and make great films which are not very biased) in the worst sense. This isn't the 60s or even 70s and scholarship in this area has finally swung over to a more accurate narrative which recognizes that while the Crusades had many problems they were a result of 300+ years of unchecked, brutal Islamic expansion by the sword. His view of the enlightened peace-loving Muslim versus the aggressive, hateful, barbaric, blood lusting imperialistic Christian Crusaders is something I'd expect in an Al Qaeda comic book for children! I was hoping he'd changed, but "Body of Lies" was sadly aptly named and portrays the US military and government as a bunch of amoral Machiavellian schemers who let politics and internal posturing compromise our deadly war against global Jihad. Yes there are small degrees of this in any huge organization, but to assert that events would unfold as they do in this film is an affront to clear thinking people. This film would dovetail nicely into a collection of delusional 9/11 Truther films and other lunacy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Epic explosion and improbable survival

Here are a number of frames from an explosion sequence in the Steven Seagal movie "On Deadly Ground" (1994). Steven's character has on only a fire retardant suit, yet he miraculously survives! LOL

This is a good mindless action movie and the dialogue is often unintentionally hilarious.

He's nursed back to health by a tribe of Innuit and then goes to kick the asses of some oil company scum!

Here is a sample of the hilarious dialogue:

"My guy in DC tells me we're not dealing with a student here, we're dealing with the professor. Anytime the military has an operation that can't fail they call this guy in to train the troops ok. He's the kind of guy that would drink a gallon of gasoline so he could piss in your campfire. You could drop this guy off at the Arctic Circle wearing a pair of bikini underwear without his toothbrush and tomorrow afternoon he's gonna show up at your pool side with a million dollar smile and a fistful of pesos. This guy's a professional ya got me. If he reaches this rig we're all gonna be nothing but a big goddamn hole in the middle of Alaska. So lets go find him and kill him and get rid of the son of a bitch."

Forrest Taft, Seagal's character, is touched on the forehead by the Innuit elder and thus enters a vision quest, his spirit guide is the bear. He fights the bear and is thrown into the water, he then goes into a cave and meets an old woman who seems to speak for Grandmother Earth. She tells him all life is in pain and suffering due to the damage man has inflicted upon the earth and that he has been chosen as a spiritual warrior to fight for the Earth. He then emerges from the water, reborn and ready to do battle!

Michael Caine plays the villain in this film and Billy Bob Thornton makes a cameo. Also of note is Joan Chen. This really is a fun action movie and the film does have a good environmental message.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Noriko's Dinner Table (2005) - review

This film is supposed to complement the previous controversial film "Suicide Club" (2001).

It revolves around a middle class Japanese family living in a pastoral coastal village. The father, Tetsuzô (Tetsu), is an editor-in-chief workaholic at a local newspaper. Mother, Taeko, is a dutiful housewife who enjoys painting. Elder daughter Noriko is in her senior year of high school. Her sister Yuka is a few years younger. Noriko runs away one night during a power outage and meets Kumiko, a mysterious girl around her own age who runs an internet BBS which has been connected to the previous suicides in the first movie. Kumiko runs the Suicide Club (Circle) and has a business where her employees and her pose as family members for clients. Eventually Yuka also runs away and joins them.

Kumiko has serious psychological problems, she lives in a fantasy world, you can fool others emotionally but sooner or later the fake memories and contrived emotional world will come crashing down.

Noriko and Yuka display enormous selfishness and total lack of regard for their parents' feelings. Perhaps this is an indictment of Japanese culture where parents don't show as much overt emotion and affection to their children, but they clearly didn't know how  good they had it. Maybe their father was distant, but we saw several times how he genuinely cared for his children and worked hard to provide them with opportunities in life. These kids were not abused nor living in some sort of hellish reality they needed to desperately escape. The callousness and ease with which they abandoned their parents is very troubling.

Noriko is so deluded she tells herself that a fake father figure, a paying client, is her real father. And the motif running is that she can create her own reality. Yet her existential crisis and the resolution to it seems so contrived and unnatural that it's hard to feel any real sympathy for her. I found my sympathies resting with her parents (and I don't have any kids myself). She cries for a fake father, yet not a single tear or thought for her real father who is frantic trying to find Yuka and her. She has accepted an illusion for reality and the false for truth. This will damage her.

"Are you connected to yourself?" - this runs throughout the film and the prior one, "Suicide Club". This existential question is something I think any mature adult with any sort of spiritual development and thought life has considered. One doesn't need to run away from home, sever all families ties, or take on a multiple personality disorder to be in harmony with themselves. This film could have dealt with this issue in a much more profound way so ultimately it is a disappointment with the director.

Kumiko and the Suicide Club bringing on the "collapse of civilization" is absurd. As usual with cults they grossly inflate their own self-importance and look for extreme solutions to human problems.

The rationale given is that since people fail in their social roles the answer is to "lie openly and pursue emptiness". This is really simplistic sort of thinking and nihilistic. It ignores the reality of the human condition and our emotional complexity and purpose in life.

These girls drove their mother to suicide, but they are so deluded and caught up in their fantasy world they probably don't care.

Yoko says when finally meeting Mitsuko again, "I knew she wasn't my real sister anymore." YES SHE IS YOUR REAL SISTER! Your very confused sister. Ugh lines that like just really irritated me.

I see what the film maker is trying to do in this narrative but it goes against the way people really are and is more a caricature than a genuine human portrayal.

Mitsuko is a heartless bitch. The way she treated her real mother who wanted to reconcile was infantile and deplorable. She needs serious psychiatric help.

The way this film deals with existential pain is to run away, to escape into an imaginary role. Not very insightful or healing.

The way Mitsuko casually watched with utter indifference as Broken Dam is murdered by a client shows she is sociopathic. She has disconnected herself from humanity. Her words about helping people are shallow and false. She has no interest in people beyond how they can assist her in playing out roles and spreading her diseased nihilistic philosophy.

The scene of the 54 high school girls committing suicide by jumping together in front of a train is done in a mocking way. It trivializes the pain and suffering of people who are depressed and take their own life. They don't cheerfully smile and yell happy slogans as they end their life. There is nothing profound in this narrative. It is an affront in fact to genuine human pain and psychological trauma.

After Tetsu's emotional plea during his reunion with Yoko and Norito they bitterly reject him and keep up their delusional roles. He then kills the four men from  Mitsuko's organization and Mitsuko returns calling for them to make dinner and stupid Yuka and Norito happily oblige, oblivious to their father's extreme anguish and the blood now all over the room. Yoko and Norito are not liberated, they are extremely mentally ill and need help.

At the end Yuka runs away (again), ostensibly forever this time, and we're expected to believe she has had some sort of cathartic moment of cleansing. Really dumb. She is not dealing with her problems in a mature way, this is how I'd expect an 8 year old to deal with an issue not a 16 year old.

Overall this was a good film, solid acting, a definite narrative (though not a terribly interesting or redemptive one), good cinematography, but it trivializes some serious issues and deals with them in a childish way. This film offers a nihilistic picture of family dynamics and an escapist resolution. Nihilism is an empty philosophy for fools. Perhaps Japan does have such a high suicide rate because of films like this. It certainly does not help anyone who is feeling lonely, depressed and suffering. In fact this film is even dangerous in that it glorifies the abandonment of all family and social ties, ignores spiritual development completely, and extols a fractured, unhealthy, self-deceptive emotional state.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who Dares Wins / The Final Option (1982) - review

This movie was a very enjoyable thriller. Pro peace terrorists (oxymoronic) capture a bunch of American and British dignitaries and hold them hostage unless their demands are met. Very strong acting by Lewis Collins, Edward Woodward and Richard Widmark. Tension is built up nicely and the action is kept realistic yet still thrilling. This movie is a testament to the spirit and skill of the British SAS - perhaps the foremost counter-terrorism and special operations unit in the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hombre (1967) - review

Hombre - a solid western starring Paul Newman. He plays John Russell, a white man raised by the Apache since childhood on a reservation. The plot is fairly simple, Russell escorts a group of people on a coach wagon to another town and in the process they are held up by bandits. This film does not sugarcoat frontier life and we are told of the cruel and unfair plight of the Native Americans and witness acts of racism against them. At one point on the coach trip Russell is told to sit on top (with the other minority, a Mexican character) due to the protests of Mrs. Favor (played by the gorgeous Barbara Rush), she doesn't want such a "savage" man in the coach with the civilized white folk. Ironically, later on Russell sacrifices his own life to save her from the bandits, when even her own husband is afraid to act on her behalf. A major theme of the film is greed. It drives a disillusioned town sheriff to join the bandits. The West is accurately portrayed as a harsh and unforgiving environment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) review

This is a great Western. It portrays the showdown between US Marshal Wyatt Earp, his brothers and friend Dr. John 'Doc' Holliday against cattle rustler Ike Clanton and his men in Tombstone, Arizona.

Stand out performances by Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in the leads. Also features appearances by a very young Dennis Hopper and DeForest Kelly (Bones from Star Trek)!

Holliday's family was struck hard by the Civil War and his parents gave everything they had left to send him to dental school. He became a dentist, but stopped seeing patients apparently because they complained about his cough. Doc likely had tuberculosis. He carries around a picture of them in a pocket watch and is clearly wracked with guilt and shame over what he's become - a gunfighter. His parents are dead, yet he feels he's let them down and contributes to a feeling of self-hatred and worthlessness. Explains why he is drinking, smoking and gambling himself into an early grave through such hard and unhealthy living. Even when explicitly asked if he had a death wish he muses that perhaps he does.

Wyatt wants to marry Laura, a beautiful gambler, but feels compelled to help his brothers first which leads to a fight and him departing for Tombstone.

Wyatt tries to warn the youngest brother off gun fighting. Several times in the film we're told how sad and unglamorous the lifestyle is and the human toll it takes, especially on those closest.

The cinematography is really nice. Excellent acting by the leads and solid acting by the supporting cast. Very nice pacing. Excellent score which really complemented the flow of the movie
and key plot points.

We get to see the heavy price that is paid for choosing to be a gunfighter or a lawman. Neither side is glorified. Earp is the lawman who cannot be bought off, a tower of moral strength who just wants to get married and settle down on a ranch of his own in California. Holliday is a drifter, a gambler who lives by his wits and the quickness of his draw, self-loathing and weary of the live he's found himself in at this stage of his life. Their friendship and the personal drama they face define this film, even more so than the iconic final showdown in my view. I highly recommend this film.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The Mechanic" (2011) review

This remake of the classic version from 1972 with Charles Bronson had some things right, but overall it really falls short of even competing with the original, let alone besting it.

The 1982 film had a sort of detached coolness and a more visceral grittiness. These were professionals who did not get emotionally involved with the assignment. Jan-Michael Vincent's Steve wanted to prove he had what it took to be at, what he perceived, an elite level. Also there was a late 60s, early 70s counter-culture subtext to his motivation. And that was really interesting. Whereas the analog in this remake comes off more as a listless wanderer who has no clear idea what he wants to do, but he thinks it would be cool to kill people and he is emotionally overcome by the revenge aspect.

Another fault I found was in the actual killings themselves. There was no detachment and precision. It was just raw death by torture in many cases. Sloppily fighting with the target, or shooting your way out of after a botched hit. Too much of the tired, formulaic "Hollywood modern action" was written and you lose all the nuance, the art of the kills which these mechanics would care about (even perhaps more than the monetary reward).

Hollywood films these days tend to assume the average movie viewer is a moron, so they try to connect as many dots for us as possible. This is patronizing and downright offensive. The match up between the old and new Bishop illustrates this glaringly. Bronson's Bishop was about control, he was in supreme control and his downfall was letting his emotion hinder that control. Everything he did was calculated. And this was no brute, he was a cultured assassin. I felt that the writers tried to convey this with Statham's Bishop but it came across very hammy (the numerous shots of his record player) and forced. Also time and again in this remake we saw a Bishop that seemed to be driven by almost pure emotion, a reactive Bishop who was never in control except marginally in the opening hit.

This remake emphasized over and over the revenge motif and I think it was a mistake having Bishop go after the Company. This was never even a possibility in the original film and I like that because it established a boundary that even Bishop had to recognize. It's the cheesy desire in Hollywood action films for the main character(s) to always get retributive justice by their own hands. I see this time and again these days and it gets very tiresome.

This remake shows that a vastly bigger budget does not equate with better film making.

Regarding pacing the remake seemed a bit too fast, however that wasn't surprising.

I am torn regarding the ending. On one hand I like the fact that Bishop bested Steve and lived to see another day in this remake. However philosophically I must give a slight edge to the original film in which both of them die because the narrative is stark: in this business of death there is no clear winner. I think even the first film should have explored some of the moral issues a bit deeper and perhaps have added a redemptive storyline, but that would be clearly a different sort of film.

So to sum up, this remake was enjoyable as a modern action film, but if you want a bit more depth and nuance see the original!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

This movie is hilarious! Best part:

dude: Oh my God! Shit!
woman: Oh my God!
dude: Noooooooo! Noooooooooo!
woman: Oh mai Gawwd!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mission

This film is a true masterpiece. I easily place it within my top 100 films of all time. The story is very human, and while some reviewers think this picture is a critique of faith, particularly the Catholic Church, I do not agree. Yes colonialism had its problems and was a flawed vehicle for the Gospel, but the Indians came to beautiful faith genuinely. Also the priests had an abiding love for these Indians as people, not as mere numbers to add to their scrolls. Real faith is not something which can be forced. And in the end of the movie the Indians and priests give one of the most compelling and loving scenes of martyrdom I have ever witnessed on film. Yes it is sad how they are cut down, but they gain far more than they lose, and in doing so show that true faith cannot be destroyed. I should state that I'm a Protestant, but I have known priests, and the character Jeremy Irons plays reminds me of several dear priests I've encountered. DeNiro gave probably the best performance of his career in this film, the only other contender would be "Deer Hunter". The scene when they reach the top of the mountain and the Indian cuts off the dead weight of the armor (symbolic of the guilt and anguish he'd be carrying over his brother's death) and DeNiro breaks down and expresses sorrow and finally joy it is truly sublime! Ennio Morricone's music beautifully complements the film (both in pacing and detail) and shows his preeminence amongst film composers! I should also comment on the film's lush cinematography. No wonder it won an Oscar for it. You are transported into the heart of the jungle. I recommend this film in the strongest possible terms. Please see it and you will not regret the time spent!

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