Friday, 30 April 2010

REVIEW: Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

Whether you see a terrible, accidentally hilarious movie or a modern cult classic in which every insane frame is in there for a reason, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans is a singular movie experience. Haters and fans will agree on one thing. You have never seen a film like this before.

There is something wonderful that happens in this film though. In that it takes that quota of ironical movie enjoyment and twists it entirely on its head, so you're watching a film you're thinking is kind of terrible, laughing in what you would presume to be all the wrong places, until the moment that it finally clicks that Herzog, Cage and the movie itself are gloriously in on the joke and that far from a feebly sincere cop drama, you're watching one of the most innovative meta-comedies you've ever seen. Herzog had never made a genre movie before this, and its not hard to see why. He's taken a script that, while having a couple of legitimately hilarious moments, is relatively generic and features a plot that draws from all the familiar wells and character beats from the familiar places. But Herzog approaches the material almost from a point of view of satirizing cop movie traits, when he's not flat-out bored of them. In one moment of genius, Herzog pulls away from a stakeout full of expository dialogue to a POV shot of a hallucinated iguana, for like 90 seconds. Or when Cage assaults a pair of OAP's a moment that would be traditionally played for tension or even horror, is just flat out hilarious.

It draws humor out of all the genres usual moments of intensity and in many ways, is a condemnation of guilty pleasure cinema. And I think its meant to be. This kind of thing almost reaches the poetic, a man needing to be shot for a second time because his soul is still dancing, for example, and strikes you with weird, out of place moments that make you laugh but also kind of form a cohesive whole, that works in its own right. There is one reason this film worked as well as it did for me, and that's Nicolas Cage. He gets a lot of rage for his recent work, but his performance here is something of comedic genius. The great thing about it is, this isn't Leaving Las Vegas Cage. This is Wicker Man Cage, only given the appropriate context. And its fucking awesome. Every twisted line delivery, every random explosion of energy, every maniacal outburst, its just perfect. Its a great performance because he knows what we expect of him, for good and bad, and he exceeds it all. He may get a lot wrong, but when Cage gets it right, he gets it right and this performance is easily one of my favorite of the year thus far, and it lifts this film from the realms of arrogant experiment into cult nirvana.

But what's great about Bad Lieutenant is that somebody else could see it and give it a one star and I couldn't really argue with them, but the film I saw was perhaps the most stellar example of film-makers taking the piss I've seen in a very long time. And in its own way, something kind of genius.

Rating: 8/10

REVIEW: Iron Man 2

Going off this over-stretched, over-cluttered and yet somehow incomplete sequel, Jon Favreau didn't really understand what worked about the first Iron Man. And for me it was far from a masterpiece, but it rose above the monotonous summer stock because it had the brains to point its camera at its leading man and let him be awesome. Because that's what Robert Downey Jr does. But Marvel Studios let the sequel fall victim to their five year plan, shoehorning in too many facets of their universe, foreshadowing The Avengers whenever and wherever they can and almost forgetting to let this be a film in and of itself. To quote Tony Stark "I want nothing to do with you're superhero boy-band."

Because I get the sense that perhaps, if you ditch the Samuel L Jackson SHIELD crap, lose Sam Rockwell's character, the War Machine stuff and just let this film be about Robert Downey Jr and Mickey Rourke, then maybe there's a passable blockbuster with some semblance of its own identity, rather then a game of spot the B-list Marvel comics character. Because Rourke, if given a bit more screen-time and vitality to the story, may have created a memorable villain. Not the Joker or anything, but one worth watching. But no, he spends the whole movie, barring one opening action sequence, stuck in Rockwell's lab, reacting to Rockwell spew and endless stream of awkward, unfunny dialogue. Fuck did I hate what this movie did with Sam Rockwell. You take one of the best, most watchable actors of his generation and somehow make him into this; an irritating, cheap one-note joke. An over-compensating geek unworthy of the worst workplace sitcom.

Downey Jr, whilst still managing to bring some of his soothing cool to proceedings, does carry a slight heir of desperation as the movie progresses, as if is aware of the chaotic rambling mess that is happening, and is powerless to stop it. The movie makes too many cheap jokes that undermine any semblance of intensity that it builds up, note the painfully embarrassing Iron Man is drunk sequence, which actually includes a fight scene scored to 'Another One bites the dust.' Fuck you Jon Favreau. Inevitable comparisons to the Spider-Man sequel that dare not speak its name are there to be made. But at least that movie went out swinging. It tried to do something and missed. Missed badly, but still. The back-half of this movie was almost repulsive, with Marvel using a multi-million dollar franchise as a platform to launch the even more obscure superheroes in its locker, but frankly I don't care. I'll see Thor, Captain America and the sure to be an abomination Avengers movie when they come out. Right now I'm here to this fucking movie, assholes.

All this to say nothing about how this movie entirely wastes Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle. Paltrow just looks exhausted to even be here, and her chemistry with RDJ is forced beyond belief. Cheadle is OK but pretty much extraneous and as far as Johansson goes, her reason for being here as far as I can tell is to provide ass-shots, given no real character beyond hot chick in a catsuit. But given the state of everything else this might be the best thing about the film. I will say the final battle was stronger in this movie then the first, but that's about all I've got. For the foolish people who thought Iron Man was Dark Knight standard, prepare for a sharp fall.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Next Week's Movies

Iron Man 2: Suck it Americans, we in the UK get this a whole seven days before you. Read it and weep. Still its somewhat wasted on me because I didn't like the first Iron Man all that much and this sequel looks to have a sense of the Spider-Man 3 about it. Expectancy Level: 6/10

The Disappearance Of Alice Creed: The cynical man would say that this looks like a fairly standard thriller, but I like the look of it and the presence of Eddie Marsan makes me a little more optimistic. God I'll regret this prediction: Expectancy Level: 7/10

The Last Song: What? Didn't I just review a fucking Nicholas Sparks adaptation? And this one has Miley Cyrus? Oh this is going to be legendary. Expectancy Level: 3/10


Going in to a film I knew to be about religious tension in turn of the AD Alexandria, centering specifically on the supposedly asexual mathematician and philosopher Hypatia. I had the sense it was going to be one of those films where even if I liked it I wouldn't like it. But maybe it speaks to my growing pretentiousness or perhaps to just a well-made film, but I ended up liking it quite a lot.

Agora comes from director Alejandro Amenabar, perhaps best known to English speaking audiences for his very well-executed Sixth Sense rip-off The Others, but has also made at least two brilliant films in his own language, Open Your Eyes and The Sea Inside. With Agora, he returns to the English language and does so better this time, with the dialogue sounding a lot less forced, but in fairness the period setting probably plays a large part in that. Its assured and knows what it wants to say, but I would say that some of the religious stuff is a bit on the nose, and similarly some of the political scenes could come straight out of HBO's Rome. But still, there's some good performances so its OK. Max Minghella is essentially required to just look soulful whilst saying very little as Slave turned revolutionary Davis, which he does very well. I also enjoyed Paradise Now's Ashraf Barhom as a charismatic street preacher. But the main reason why this film, for me at least, isn't Kingdom Of Heaven with slightly less money and Orlando Bloom is Rachel Weisz's terrific performance as Hypatia, and its says a lot to her talent the scenes of her scientific discovery are somehow more thrilling and engaging then the battles or the political intrigue. She doesn't get the hysteria Kate Winslet gets, but generally her work is just as good. Its to the film's detraction that as it goes on, she becomes more of a side-character, second to the Jew-Christian smack down the film clearly had more interest in. I liked the fact that that the film didn't present that fact that she had no interest in men as her loss or fault, instead showing her as an adjusted, approachable human being. You would never have got that in American movie.

But still, it's nice to see a film approach these issues intelligently, if a little blatantly, but for me Weisz lifts what would have been a 6/10 movie to something a bit more interesting. And look I didn't make one joke about The Mummy all the way through my review, because I take my responsibility seriously damn it. Wait.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 26 April 2010

REVIEW: Centurion

I was a huge fan of Neil Marshall back in the day. Dog Soldiers is the perfect movie for its type. The kind of ridiculous but slightly aware of it, slasher horror movie and is entertaining as hell. The Descent was flat-out one of the best horror movies of the decade and Marshall had officially become the best maker of movies where people die one at a time in increasingly awesome ways. But then he made Doomsday. Which gave Marshall a grander scale and a wider world to explore and perhaps something to say. And he couldn't hack it, and the thing was a big overwrought mess.

Centurion is kind of a cross between the two. Marshall again tries to do something new, but includes elements of what he does best, a group of plucky survivors against a seemingly unstoppable foe getting picked off one by one, to play it safe. Unfortunately it all doesn't quite mesh, and the only things that work is the tried and tested, and most of the Romans vs natives stuff just feels like a slightly gorier version of that shitty Bruckheimer King Arthur movie a few years back. Marshall handles the gore as well as you'd expect him to, although I'd say he looked a little clueless in the movie's main battle scene, trying to make it poetic but it honestly didn't work. Its hard to appreciate the tragedy of the situation against the sheer glee he takes in the gore. Once the Marshall status quo is restored however, it gets a bit better.

If I hadn't seen Fish Tank and Hunger, I'd call bullshit on Michael Fassbender about now. He is too frequently over-zealous and always seems to be trying way too hard in his more mainstream movies. And its not even in an enjoyable way, he seems to be to be trying to Daniel Day Lewis Centurion, and it just doesn;t fit. Faring better are Dominic West - McNulty - who gives the right kind of over the top performance, and good supporting work from David Morrissey and Liam Cunningham as two of the more memorable members of Fassbender's fellowship. It seems polite to not mention who ridiculous Noel Clarke comes across in this context, not quite able to clip his cockney accent and I'll I kept seeing was Mickey from Doctor Who. Bond Girl Olga Kurlyenko does a decent enough female historic version of the wordless badass from Battle Royale.

Its an entertaining movie, the deaths are quite creative slash hilarious and its a speedy enough chase movie, but this kind of thing has been done better and not seeing this film is not a major offense to your existence. And so Marshall may be a director with nothing to say, and nothing really to offer but sequential dismemberment. Still, it worked for John Carpenter.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: It's A Wonderful Afterlife

What. The. Fuck. At times I question my see everything policy, as I going wandering into this kind of shit, fully aware of how shit its going to be, but go in anyway. Lamb to the slaughter. Please, will somebody save me from my own hand. Anyway fuck if I'm reviewing this piece of shit properly. Truly one of the worst films I've ever seen. Did I say shit enough? Shit.

Rating: 1/10

REVIEW: The Joneses

When people review things in general, I think its a balance of two things. Your immediate gut reaction and your thought out reasoning as to why this was so. But the problem is that the reasoning part seems to exist only to justify the emotional reaction, so reviews rarely end up actually exploring the rights and wrongs of a film, and become essays on the pre-emptive defensiveness of the reviewer in question

I say this because the Joneses was a film that frustrated me a lot. I liked its central idea, of a viral marketing family, embedded in a rich community to set consumer trends and subliminally manipulate their neighbors into buying shit they don't need. As a satire its a fairly nifty concept, so naturally when I saw what the film actually was, it pissed me off Every time it should have been awesome, and every time it should have been clever it was simple. I was already to rip the shit out of it, for having no balls and being a sugar-coated misfire. Surely the point of satirizing consumerism, is to show how horribly shallow, empty and lonely the lifestyle is. But David Duchovny and Demi Moore fall in love so none of that matters, even though they essentially got a guy to kill himself.

But I think my problem with this film was that it should have been better, and my rage perhaps came from being deprived the version of this film I wanted, but truth be told this film isn't that bad. Its occasionally funny, well put together and sporadically well acted. Duchovny is perfect for his role, bringing his customary adorable smarm, and while he is no doubt coasting, he's a guy I'm happy to watch coast. Demi Moore however, its a bit too much of a blank canvas for what should have been the most interesting role in the movie, matriarch of the corporate 'family'. And quite frankly appears to ave the substance of a person who would choose to spend the rest of their life with Ashton Kutcher. She looks the part to be sure, but that role ended up a wasted opportunity, like much in this movie. But amidst the blandness were a couple of moments that landed, the Gary Cole character worked quite well for me, as the tragic figure/sucker whose story one has to ignore in order to buy the tacked on happy ending. Amber Heard' Boobs show up for a bit (cheap google hits here I come) without really adding anything but a pleasant distraction. This girl is becoming Hollywood's go to ho.

The Joneses is an OK movie I guess for what it wanted to be, but the movie I wanted it to be probably got lost around the fifth test screening. Oh well, its not like any of y'all are going to see it anyway.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Breaking Bad: Sunset - RIP RV, We'll Always Have New Mexico

Yeah. This was the first taste season three has given us of Breaking Bad, the unbearably tense show which takes sequences of thriller convention and looks at them with such a fresh and painstakingly detailed eye, its kind of ingenious. And the RV set-piece this week was arguably the best example of this possibly ever, and if there's been a better ten minutes of TV this year I definitely want to see it.

- This episode took a step back from the heavy character drama we've been dealing with in past weeks, and into a very much get things moving episode. And while their have been some truly astounding moments in these first five episodes, they were a might inconsistent, and with no major plot upheaval to distract us, it was perhaps more noticeable. Still I love this show more then anything else on TV right now and this episode is why.

- Walt got to cooking in his freshly built Meth-Cave. We meet his new partner in chemistry Gale. Played, somewhat awesomely, by Mel's shell of a husband in Flight Of The Concords, Doug. But with this part, David Costabile proves to be awesome outside of the hipster surroundings, and is the perfect mix of sycophant/mysterious creep the part called for. Way to make an instant impression man.

- Loved his rendition of the Walt Whitman poem, that was strangely moving despite being used by Gale from a place of manipulative dishonesty.

- Hank is in trouble man. If he keeps discovering all this new shit, he's going to get himself murdered, he zeroes in on Jesse this week. staking out his home until he leaves frantically in order to stop his precious RV/Meth lab getting destroyed.

- ..By Walt, who sensing the net closing on Jesse. Had planned to trash the RV to give himself a clean getaway. Unfortunately Jesse turns up, followed by Hank, to stop him. Queue awesomely tense sequence the both of them deep in the shit, and Hank getting literally centimeters away from discovering his brother-in law was the infamous Heisenberg. Then awesomeness ensued.

- the scene of the RV getting crushed was fairly amazing too. Perhaps because its become such an iconic part of the show's look, it felt like a character death, and this hunk of of metal getting scrapped was certainly more moving then when Ali Larter got killed on heroes.

- RIP RV, its been a wild ride.

- great cameo from Larry Hankin, whom most will know as Mr Heckles from Friends, as the legally assured dump-site guy who made the scene work as well is it did.

- " This is my domicile and I will not be Harassed, BITCH! "

- Hysterical Jesse is always the funniest thing about this show.

- Loved the moment where Walt hung up on Saul for being annoying.

- Dean Norris has brought a real intensity to Hank this season, and he has gone from being a fairly expository side character to becoming as interesting as the show's leads. But now he might whacked.

- Because of the awesome Gus Frings, played so perfectly by Giancarlo Esposito who so nailed Gus' methodical fearlessness in the final scene with the cousins. Gus' play it seems, is turn the cousins on Hank instead of Walt, because Walt makes him money. This was a terrific twist, as all the best twists are because it was unexpected yet makes perfect sense. But the odds on Hank making it through this season are looking increasingly slim.

- minimal Skylar this week, perhaps because we focused more on the gangster shenanigans this week then the family drama. She was missed though.

- All in all a great episode, that accomplished a lot whilst not feeling hectic, something the show has been in search of this season but not quite finding, and just fucking great television.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, 22 April 2010

REVIEW: Date Night

The expressions, they say everything. Date Night, more actively then any film that I can think of, tests the theory that if you put enough talented people into something that is pretty much shite, it will make it into something good. Or in other words, if you give Steve Carell bad dialogue, then Steve Carell will make it into good dialogue, one way or another. Date Night features an out-dated concept, an awkward script and more then one of what I like to call 'Accidental Husband' moments, where an attempted joke is so horribly unfunny that you consequently experience an embarrassment so pitiless, that the recollection of it years later will still make you squirm.

But because of the many, many talented people that were persuaded/blackmailed into being in Date Night, there are moments to enjoy. In particular the cameos of James Franco and Mila Kunis playing a lowlife couple called Taste and Whippet, whom this movie clearly should have been entirely about. Franco in particular just straight up fucking owns, and is a becoming a little bit of comedic genius these days. He's come a long way since being so fucking awful as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies. Fey and Carell, although a believable couple visually, and that's pleasing to see in a mainstream release, played up to the camera a bit too much for my liking, so much so that I almost preferred Carell when he wasn't being funny. And in a comedy as broad as this that's a deer in the headlights type deal. Fey is OK I guess, but like Carell mugs a bit too frequently. I guess that's what happens when you put Shawn ' Pink Panther 2.0' Levy behind the camera. Ray Liotta does his usual rent a mob boss thing, I kind of dug the legend that is William Fichtner as the ridiculously caricatured sleazy politician, and Mark Wahlberg's sense of naive sincerity is something of a potential comedic goldmine that only I Heart Huckabees has properly utilized, one day maybe, because this movie just makes jokes about his abs, which, admittedly, are stunning.

You've seen the trailer so you don't need me to tell you what happens. Its True Lies if everyone was who they pretended to be. You know everything that could conceivably happen, and it does, exactly as you think it will. Some may find it cheaply comforting, I simply find it tiring that this amount of on camera talent was wasted on something so inherently useless. Having said that, it does feature Jimmi Simpson, who is one of my favorite actors that nobody has heard of, in an entirely disposable and expository role. Still, he was both a McPoyle on Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Mary the criminologist on Psych for fuck's sake. Love that guy. Anyway this movie sucks. My suggestion, Youtube the James Franco scene, which compels me to give this 5/10 even though I really don't want to, and save yourself 7.50.

Rating: 5/10

Lost: The Last Recruit - Explosions Can't Kill A Semi-Corporeal Supernatural Being, Stupid!

As we close in on the finale, a couple of episodes like this are inevitable. I believe they are referred to as chess piece episodes, in which they're mean reason for being is to get everyone into place for a subsequent episode. I fully expect next week to quite like this too. But I don't mind, because it was exciting, stuff happened and ended with the promise that shit is about to go down.


- A multi-flash episode, which is probably a good thing. Because there was no half-assed plotting, just cool moments between characters. As much as I hate the 'triangle' a.k.a any scenes that focus around Jack, Kate and Sawyer's desire to do each other. The Sawyer Kate scene was pretty cool. Lilly always tries a little hard, but as always, Josh Holloway was beyond awesome.

- Sun recognizes alter-Locke, and screams no! presumably mistaking him for the demon that wears his face back in our time line. Desmond is still pushing people to where they're 'supposed to be', this week connected Claire with her half brother Jack. Ilana looked hot in business lady mode. RIP Ilana.

- Sayid got arrested for the murder of about a thousand guys back at the kitchen. And by Sawyer no less. Dissed.

- Locke is into surgery with Jack, and destined, I would think, to have his legs all fixed and shit. I do hope he gets a happy ending in at least one reality.

- What's the betting on who Jack's sons mum is? his ex-wife from our reality? Juliet? Ana Lucia?

- So Sun turned out to be OK. great. Stupid irrelevant flash-sideways.

- I think that's about it, snappy segments kept this weeks flash-sideways from being too galling.


- So the gang's all back together. As Hurley's crew reunite with Locke's crew and the games begin. Any scene where Evil-Locke talks about the real John Locke seems to have a fair amount of poignancy.

" John Locke wasn't a believer, he was a sucker."

- Another awesome Evil Locke moment - Zoe, saunters up to the camp all cocky like demonstrating her mad technological explosive skills. After an airbourne bomb blows up about a click away, EL gives no semblance of shit, and not for one second breaking eyeline. Terry O Quinn rules.

- So Sawyer's plan went into full effect this week, as he gathered the remainder of our heroes and stole Evil Locke's boat, planning to hijack Widmore's submarine and get the fuck out of there.

" Sawyer stole my boat didn't he." Best line delivery ever. Evil Locke FTW.

- Emilie De Ravin served up some awesomeness tonight, showing glimpses of humanity behind the crazy of Claire 2.0. The scene with her and Kate was kind of sweet. Kate has never been my favorite character. In fact she has perhaps been consistently the weakest of the big players, but I liked that moment.

- Jack has remained a man of faith it seems, as he satys with EL rather then escape the island with Sawyer. Will the real man of faith please stand up?

- Widmore tried at episodes end to blow up Evil Locke with explosives. What a dumbass. Its about time this self-important jerk got killed I think.

- Is there some to salvage within zombie Sayid? as it appears he didn't go through with killing Desmond the way he was supposed to. Obviously Des was still alive by the way, those fools were tricking no-one last week. Naveen Andrews is as always fantastic.

- Zoe-Watch: Had a big face-off scene with Evil Locke, just came across a bad actress to be honest. I will take great pleasure in her inevitable death, particularly now that she and Widmore double-crossed our heroes, she cant be long for this world.

- No deaths in this one either, man are they going to blow their homicidal load all at once?

- A pleasant enough chess-piecer, and things are pretty much where they should be in regards to the on island stuff, although The flash-sideways are going to need a big, big ending. It's not the best season of Lost, but a killer last 5 hours would certainly not go a miss.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Breaking Bad: Mas - Ready To Be The Bad Guy

It seems my odd numbers theory was prophetic as balls, because Mas was a fucking great episode, so rich, so well acted and while it perhaps isn't up there with the shows best episodes, its none the less truly great television.

- To be fair it did retain the slight chaotic feel that has weighed down a couple of episodes of season three, but each strand of the story, however unconnected, was just so awesome that I don't care. And if it can keep that up that'll be just fine with me.

- Some have complained that season 3 waited five episodes before re-introducing Walt the meth dealer, instead using the beginning of the season to focus on the break-up of his family. I disagree I think, as this is at its heart a character show first and a crime show second. Look what happened to Weeds when it got too involved in its own plot, and this just isn't that kid of show.

- So comes to end's Walt's futile resistance of who he was always going to become. The bad guy. His scene of coldly cutting of his partner Jesse, who he has gone through thick and thin with, as if he were nothing but a cocky little boy was some ruthless shit. The contempt, the pitilessness and the rage were all there on Cranston's face. Did I mention that he's totally like really good on this show?

- Perhaps this ruthlessness was born from his finally giving up the game in regards to him and Skylar. The tragedy being of course that Walt does love her, for all of his faults, and the scene with the baby was heartbreaking. The love in his eyes directly compared with the acceptance once he saw Skylar had left the room whilst he shared a tender moment with his estranged baby daughter. Moving stuff, and then he totally ball-busted Jesse for no reason but for petty rage to remind us that this is Walt after all.

- Enjoyed seeing the old Jesse in flashback. That guy was hilarious. Plus Skinny Pete!

" Because he's a dumbass, that's why."

- I'll just say that this show should use Saul Goodman in moderation, as too much of him can be annoying, but just enough of him can be awesome.

- Another power episode for Hank, who in the subplot Sherlock Holmes'd his way to discovering Jesse is involved in the mythical blue meth. What a great asset a nervous breakdown is to one's investigative skills. His scene with his wife Marie was awesome, Hank keeping up his tough, unapproachable guy facade to even his loved ones even though he was long ago broken. Dean Norris is very quickly becoming my second favorite actor on this show.

- Loved the skylar stuff too, as she begins the process of rationalization in regards to Walt's ill gotten drug money.

- RV Flashback! Still more relevant then that Lost episode about Jack's tattoos.

- Gus Frings rules. As does Giancarlo Esposito playing him. His scenes with Walt, in, which he allowed the man to whom pride is everything bluster before successfully playing him back into the meth business. The man is good at what he does.

- "A Man provides. Even if they hate you for it."

- This show now officially has a secret base. A Meth lab under chemical factory, but still. Secret base!

- Another excellent episode which let its actors act. Which is always when BB is at its best. Now, of course the gangster strand of the show is back in business. Fairly excited.

Rating: 8/10


I do spend quite a lot of time on here ragging of excessive use of postmodern irony and specifically the way films use it as an excuse. But there is of course, a flip-side to that coin. Just as as the first faux pas can fatally undermine the reality of your movie, poe-faced self-seriousness and importance equally diminishes your chances of creating an actual meaningful moment, because the movie hits such an unrelenting pitch of dramatic hysteria that it inevitably becomes overwrought. If I Am Love were a performance, it would be an overcooked one, constantly trying to spell out its meaning rather then let it come across organically. And you add this to the fair to medium level of pretentious ( something I don't usually mind in movies or TV, but it was a little too obnoxious this time) and you're in trouble.

Its not a bad movie though, through the sum of its parts, and there's a lot to like here. It looks great, with everything from cities to country to cuisine captured with a loving, roving eye. I think it went after the fashion crowd, as the variety of clothes on display looked as if they would be hypothetically fashionable, but I'll have to cop to having no right to talk about that, because I saw this movie in a red hoodie and tracksuit pants. I think Tilda Swinton is good in the lead, handling both the Italian and Russian languages with aplomb, but she wasn't quite good enough to absolve the movie of its variety of sins, as Audrey Tautou did in last year's Coco Before Chanel, so the juice wasn't quite worth the squeeze. The actual melodrama of it was handled obscenely heavy-handedly, with the characterization of the various family members a bit too broad. I quite enjoyed Pippo Delbono's performance as closed off husband, even if it was an archetype of a role, he played it well.

A case perhaps of the execution justifying the conception, and while the story and messages were heavy handed as fuck, it looked good enough through cinematography, production design and most other areas of technical and artistic expertise, that I guess I'll give it a pass. Its so much worse then it thinks it is though.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 19 April 2010

5 Things On A Monday: A Cultural Tangency

1) The Reappearance Of A Deservedly Forgotten Actress Of The Week:

Kirsten Dunst, who vanished of the face of the earth after Marie Antoinette, a movie which presented the case that Ms. Antoinette was simply too pretty to be responsible for any kind of wrong doing, has booked the lead in the the new Lars Von Trier film. Since Von Triers' last leading lady cut her vagina out with a pair of pliers, and the one before that got chained up by an entire town and raped for like 10 years, I would imagine this will be a decision that Dunst doesn't regret like at all.

2) The Unintentionally Cathartic Movie Moment Of The Week:

Peter Petrelli getting snapped in half in Gamer. For those of us who watched Heroes to the bitter end, follow this link and get yours. Be warned its a fairly nasty scene, but get to the end and it'll be worth it.

3) The Best HBO Show Since The Wire Of The Week.

Treme. Watch it. Now.

4) The Planet Terror Fallacy Of The Week.

As I go about my Film course, enlightening and otherwise inspiring, I've noticed a trend of people, both in reality and online, saying that Planet Terror is actually awesome, and not the slightly less entertaining zombie version of From Dusk Till Dawn that I thought it was. I liked a couple of performances ( Naveen Andrews!) But all in all it was a bit meh. But I do have a theory as to its blossoming reputation. Because When Planet Terror is mentioned in any capacity, in any conversation, in any walk of life, the next thing out of our collective mouths is ' well its better then Death Proof '. Well yes. Yes it is. But Dear John was better then Death Proof. And there's nothing better for a movie's legacy then being constantly compared to what might be the most smug, obnoxious disappointing movie of the last decade. It's flattery by association guys, we're forced to constantly compliment the film because of the hideous after-birth it came attached to. And thus people think Planet Terror is a better movie then it is.

5) The Entitled Complaint About The Working Man Of The Week.

I think I've found, and its been a long arduous search, the most incompetent cinema employee anywhere in the world. His name is Dave. Dave's story begins when he's just an unassuming guy in London looking for a job to earn money for his family, so he takes a job at a local cine-world, thinking it will be a breeze, unaware that he's just entered his own personal seventh circle of hell. Dave is not just a bad employee. Bad employees make you angry and then eventually make you feel superior. Dave's sheer incompetence is so horrifying that it leaves you feeling nothing but pity and embarrassment. He worked the popcorn stand where he was stationed like he was in his first tour of Basra, and as the flak through via constant consumer judgment and passive aggressive complaints flew, a constant pathetic smile cut across his face as he saw the queue getting longer and longer. And longer. In the 10 minutes our paths crossed, I saw him serve the wrong order four times, drop a box popcorn on the floor, Mis-calculate prices, irritate customers and get lost behind his 2x3 counter. It was so awkward that when I asked for my medium popcorn and small coke, I ended up basically baby talking it.

" Hi, can i get...a me-di-um popcorn and a small coke please."

"Yeah. What was your order sir?

" erm, medium popcorn and small coke please."

" Of course sir ( walks off to the drink dispenser, stand awkwardly and returns smiling, horrified)

" Diet Coke?"

" Er no a normal coke thanks. "

" Not a diet coke."

" No."

Dave, who clearly wanted the earth to swallow him up this point, as people in the ever expanding queue alternated laughing and frustrated sighs and backtalk. Dave was lost, and it looked as if there was no way out. But then have gave me my order and I left and don't know what happened next.

Next Week's Movies

Date Night: Two comedians I kind of like, directed by possibly the most useless hired hand director ever to consume air. I expect them to cancel each other out and result a very average movie. Expectancy Level: 5/10

It's A Wonderful Afterlife: As a firm rule, black comedies by directors who show no previous signs of darkness are always hideous and painfully unfunny. So comes one from the director of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Add that the male lead is played by Suresh from Heroes and you've got one awful looking movie. Expectancy Level: 3/10

Agora: Rachel Weisz is an actress I would pretty much see in anything, even a Spanish film about an ancient Egyptian philosopher in which no-one gets killed by a mummy and Brendan Fraser is nowhere in sight. Expectancy Level: 6/10

Centurion: Neil Marshall slightly nose dived after The Descent, and while this looks to be your fairly standard turn of the A.D sword and slasher film, it stars Michael Fassbender and Marshall does have a talent for carnage. Expectancy Level: 6/10

The Joneses: Hmm, consumerist satire starring David Duchovny and Demi Moore. Two has been revivals in one movie, plus its got Amber Heard who seems to exclusively play scantily clothed bitchy rich girls, so that can only be good. Expectancy Level: 6/10

REVIEW: The Ghost

Its pretty hard to see this movie away from the whole Roman Polanski thing. Its seems likely that this will be his last film, as he spends the rest of his days behind bars. Perhaps where he should have spent a few more. The movie world would be without a few great, great movies, but using that is an excuse seems the slightest bit deluded. Guy raped a teenage girl and genius or no, there is only one response to that.

So The Ghost is given an added extra-textual weight in which this is the last work ever to come out of a movie -making genius, and someone who I would put up there as flat-out one of the best film-makers of the 20th century, but this seems a little unfair. The Ghost isn't Chinatown or Rosemary's Baby. It's an efficiently crafted, well-acted thriller that is taut, intelligent and keeps you guessing. And that's all really. It may lay claims to political relevance, but this didn't really bite for me. It sensationalized the politics from which it drew a bit to heavily ( The Blairs were on the books of the CIA indeed) which means it can be seen as nothing more then entertainment. But view it as that and its a perfectly fine way to spend £7.50/ 2 hours.

I have kind of enjoyed Pierce Brosnan's post-Bond career. There's been cack, but he's shown a desire to do some interesting work and the talent to back at it up. The Matador is probably his tour de force, but he does a scarily textured Tony Blair impression here, complete with all the mannerisms, illusions of relatability and two-faced behavior. I liked his performance as 'Stephen Lang' quite a bit. And Ewan McGregor makes for a perfect audience surrogate in this kind of thing. There's a doe-eyed naivete in his performances that makes him a person who could be believably be manipulated. That sounds like an insult but he is actually good here in a relatively empty lead role. Dollhouse's Olivia Williams shows up in a welcome substantial role as Ruth Lang (Cherie Blair) and brings here trademark closed of seething bitterness, which is always great to see.

Its a plot driven movie, and that aspect is handled smoothly enough going from point to point with pleasing drive, and this movie makes some great comedic use of the phrase ' For Fuck's sake' something that clearly not enough movies do. It has a strong if not mind-blowing final act, and all in all its kind of like Shutter Island, in that it covers a bunch of stuff we've seen done before very well. This isn't quite that movie though, but if it is Roman Polanski's swansong, then there are worse ways to go out.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, 16 April 2010

REVIEW: Dear John

Dear Nicholas ' I have no contemporaries' Sparks,

I am a coin. Trodden down into the dirt by a reality in which you're work is popular. My edges serrated and worn by you're endless monotone of empty schmaltz and dramatic outpourings of emotion that don't mean a damn because the characters you create are hollow shells, outwardly pretty and sculpted but inwardly as weak as you're cheap recycled plots. My once proud bronze glazing, which used to play surface to the dancing light of the sun and the moon (yeah), now knows only erosion of you're cynical bullshit that has infected cinema like it infected the shelves of bookstores.

I am cancer. I used to be a proud corrosive disease. I would infect whatever actor/actress would wanted to win an Oscar that year and they'd communicate my pain in such pure, truthful terms that only viewers of Silkwood would understand. I had dignity, I had respect. People heard my name and respected my awesome dramatic prowess because I was cancer. So endeth the conversation. But now, you and your shitty movies like Dear John come along and use me like a cheap, affordable to the working class whore. A third act prop-up you use to avoid having to come up with an actual ending. I am a joke mistold. Reduced to a puny oh, It totally forgot to tell you but this guy has cancer gimmick that takes away my poignancy and my ability to make grown my cry like the twenty-something girl who realizes she's never going to fuck Robert Pattinson. How could you do that to me. I'm totally going to fuck up you're colon.

I am Channing Tatum. I don't really have anything to hate on Nicholas Sparks for, because his shitty books turn into movies which make me money. And I like money. That's why I was in GI Joe. Apart from its satirical subtext and fearsome dramatic intensity. Obviously. I favor of an acting style of making every word I have to utter look like it causes me severe pain. And not in a cool, pensive Clint Eastwood way, in a my brain is literally a sandbox and I'm having to concentrate real hard to correctly pronounce the word ' Surf-Board'. But whatever. I make million of dollars at something I entirely suck at. Can you say the same thing? Didn't think so. I'll be on my jet-ski's.

I am Melodrama. I dont have much self-respect to begin worth, I scheme, hatch and openly manipulate a series of rundown emotional beats to make you cry about people that even I dont care about. Yet somehow you devalue even me, the taboo less, soulless douche of movie genres. Ill say I'm a little impressed. To play dialogue like ' I miss you so much it hurts' and ' he doesn't have a crush on me, he just doesn't know it yet.' straight as an arrow is a glorious thing. Stephanie Meyer has got nothing on you. Like the proverbial frenchman, I know when I am beaten.

I am Richard Jenkins. I was bored?

Yours to whom my love is eternal, anonymous film critic

Rating: 3/10

REVIEW: Repo Men

The US health industry is in a state of capitalistic nihilism in which the dollar overrules patient care by in a way that is terrifyingly black and white. If you can't afford it you don't get it, simple as. As the tradition with semi-relevant action movies, this horror is re-appropriated and re-sized into something that can feature people getting killed in gory and brutal ways. It takes societal crumbling and turns it into some awesome entertainment. Repo Men isn't the dark satire of the health-care system it would like to be. In fact its a profoundly dumb movie, that often doesn't make sense, but it pretty much gets by on its loopy incoherent charm. I was entertained, but felt a little guilty for being so.

The story follows 'Repo Men' Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker), whose job its basically is to repossess artificial organs from people who miss their monthly installments. Yes that is literally exactly like it sounds, they walk up to people and remove their organs then and there. They do politely offer to call an ambulance should the mutilee require it. So that's nice. But given that street surgery often results in death, its slightly redundant. The first half I definitely preferred, a demented if very uneven black comedy, finding hilariousness in the carnage and our two leads enjoying the shit out of what they do. Then the movie regrettably begins to take itself slightly more seriously once Jude Law meets a disposable girlfriend character ( played by Alice Braga, who seems to always play this unnecessary role). Still, its climax brings back the campy insanity and then some, featuring some barbaric, bloody action and what might be the first surgery/sex scene on film. They literally engage in foreplay whilst cutting each other open. Seriously.

Repo Men had a lot of interesting ideas and ambitions but executed the thing with the panache of a post Lord Of war Nicolas Cage performance. Still, I enjoyed much of the action, I bizarrely bought Jude Law as an action hero, and loved the shit out of Liev Schreiber's awesome company man. I think he understood the nature of the material the most. Whitaker takes it a bit seriously, but he takes everything seriously so that is to be expected. Utterly ridiculous, but in a way that's grotesquely charming. Awesome soundtrack too, and a bad movie to good music is a slightly better movie. So says I.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 15 April 2010

REVIEW: Cemetery Junction

Before I get into what will be a mostly positive review of Cemetery Junction, I do want to clear my throat of an irritation. And reflect on a sentence that ended up a description of the physical act of coughing rather then the smooth segway I had envisioned. But onward and upward. Its a common trend of films such as this, in which the creatives, a.k.a our heroes/storytellers, view the pragmatic man with a disdain that not even serial killers get. Always soulless, callous monsters in expensive suits convinced of their superiority living out their joyless existence obliviously. There's a scene in Cemetery Junction in which Ralph Fiennes, playing one of these douches, looks at an artwork and can only comment on its monetary value. What a twat, right? But this irks me, because don't the creative types view their own world ideology with the same sense of righteousness? At least the average suit doesn't think that what they have to say needs to be heard by the entire fucking world. Who are the real egotists here? Put it this way, if both archetypes had nothing but a Tesco shopping cart to call their home, only the creatives would be still convinced of their superiority.

Having said that, Cemetery Junction is a film I enjoyed, and definitely my favorite thing to come out of the mind of Ricky Gervais (and Stephen Merchant). Which brings me to the inevitable admittance that I don't believe The Office to be the best thing to come out of the world since the Paleolithic age. This pretty much makes me a pariah, but if you're going to be an outcast for something, this is pretty much up there with your country and your family. The film had a real earnestness to it, which is always nice to see. I Genuinely believe that Gervais believes the Philosophies he spouts and even if I didn't agree with all of it, that's such a rare thing in movies at the moment it must be commended. Similarly it's heartfeltisms also ring true, spoken from an honest place, and I guess its nice to see such purebred romanticism with no hint of compensatory cynicism.

Having said that, I think Gervais and Merchant do ring the ' this provincial town will drag you down' bell a little hard, presenting the small town as an existential hell for the young mind a little too obviously. I could have done without the kid with the awesome bone structure (Tom Hughes) repeatedly saying that he was leaving, but you know, never leaving. DRAMATIC IRONY GUYS. I thought that character in general was a bit empty to be honest, and I was having trouble accepting his anarchic don't give a shit attitude when he clearly gets up at 4 A.M to spend an hour giving his hairstyle that ' I just got up' look. I don't know If it was intentional or not but the character felt a little disingenuous to me. I did however like Christian Cooke in the lead and thought that he and lead girl Felicity Jones were a charming lead couple, and both Matthew Goode and Ralph Fiennes played their demonized salesmen very well. Particularly Goode.

Having said that, this was a confident, visually impressive directorial debut for the famed comedy duo, and if they continue to press this particular medium of media I shall remain interested. But Cemetery Junction is not quite there, and for all its sweetness it's a little too patronizing to be a great piece of work.

I don't like The Office.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: The Infidel

Knowing what I do of David Baddiel, I can very much believe that this came from his brain. Its simultaneously arrogant and gutless, and nowhere near funny enough to justify either. If you really, really like comedian/actor ( an order of phrasing I choose very deliberately) Omid Djalili then you may enjoy him being toned down and channeled through Baddiel's depressingly average voice. This is the kind of film that has me fuming at the British Film industry to be honest. Not because its bad, but for a film dealing with potentially interesting stuff, its lack of ambition both comedically and thematically makes me want to hit something or someone in the face.

In the end, The Infidel becomes one of those painful opposites attract buddy movies, in which two guys from different racial or religious backgrounds rip on each other from not being from their respective racial or religious background, and a fun time is had by all. Now despite its near sickly familiarity, this kind of movie can work as enjoyable trash if the dialogue is smart enough and the actors likable enough. But in the Infidel, the writing is sappily predictable and almost groan-inducing, and an over reliance on very broad jokes about racial stereotypes. ( Hey guys.. Do you know what I noticed...(awkward pause)... Jews totally like money! They can't get enough of it. Isn't that crazy!! like totally C-R-A-Z-Y.) I wouldn't call it racism, because that would be babyish, but its lazy writing and shows as much insight into Jewish and muslim life as did Steve Martin's Bringin' Down The House did into black culture. Djalili is good enough, and while I'll say I didn't find him that amusing, he did handle the actual acting a bit better then expected. But the only thing I actively liked in this movie was Richard Schiff, in a rare role that gives him more then ten minutes of screen time. Anyone who has seen The West Wing knows that nobody delivers cynical, contemptuous sarcasm quite like Schiff, and if the dialogue isn't as good here by a long way, he's still on awesome on screen presence.

But to be honest this kind of movie that makes people look at the cinema of our great homeland with contempt, such is its lifeless mediocrity. Its just so, erm how to best phrase this, naff. Uncool. Square. And many more synonyms to the same effect.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lost: Everybody Loves Hugo - Guys, The Dynamite Is Unstable. Seriously.

To be honest I was expecting this episode to suck much more then it did. Hurley episodes usually have little to nothing going on, focusing on a character I don't have too much time for. But, the show showed a forward motion missing from a few to many episodes of late and I even enjoyed the off-island stuff, mostly thanks to Jorge Garcia's excellent performance.


- This was mostly a sweet Hurley story, skew some Desmond driven mythology and a brutal twist ending.

- So better then most off-island stories then. The bulk of the Hurley off-island saw him revive his brief romance with Libby, only in another dimension. Because you can't stop love, guys. I enjoyed seeing Cynthia Watros again, and she and Garcia share a good presence together. So fair play to that one.

- And more importantly it broke the unfortunate flash-sideways pattern of episodes just being weak thrillers, that don't really matter. Which is good.

- Of course, Hurley was pushed into his Libby affair, by alter-Desmond, who seems to be driving the flash-sideways narrative now. Getting people where they are supposed to be, metaphysically speaking.

- But then he totally mowed down poor John Locke for like no reason. But then you say that there is a reason, and I'm sure that action will get alter-Locke where he is supposed to be. Hopefully not dead.


- So they finally did it. They killed Ilana. In a cheap self-referential joke too. Remember how Arzt totally blew himself up back in season 1 with unstable dynamite and it was like 100% hilarious, well I guess Ilana didn't see that episode and thus didn't learn the vital lesson that if your a minor character, don't touch the unstable dynamite. It seems I ended Ilana Watch just in time.

- RIP Ilana.

- Otherwise, the good guy group, now led by Richard it seems sets out to destroy the Ajira plane on which Evil Locke plans to escape. But given that this is a Hurley episode, Hurley has to be involved somehow. So he splits up the group, believing that diplomacy is the better tactic, and that they should approach Locke for peace talks. Richard rightly balks at this, and thus division happens, and Ben and Miles head of Richard, whilst Jack, Lapidus and Sun head off with Hurley.

- Meanwhile, over at camp evil. Kate continues her five-episode streak of sitting around and glowering and doing little else.

- Also at camp evil, Locke has talks with Desmond, who if you'll remember was kidnapped by Sayid last week. After so terrific acting from both of them, Evil Locke asks why Desmond isnt afraid of him. Desmond says whats the point in being afraid Very zen.

- Of course it would have looked a lot less retarded if Evil Locke hadn't thrown him down an infinite abyss of a well about one minute later.

- The passive Lost viewer would write an RIP Desmond column around here, but I'm seasoned guys and know hes going to be fine and dandy next week. trust me.

- Zoe watch. No fucking Zoe. Thus a great episode.

- Good. The episode went somewhere, people died, and good acting was present and correct. All I want from an episode of Lost.

Rating: 8/10

Breaking Bad: Green Light - The Camera In The Cash Machine

It seems Breaking Bad season three has got a serious case of the odd numbers, because just episodes 1 and 3, contained the stuff this show has done so well, 2 and now 4 have a slightly chaotic, rambling feel that doesn't quite feel in sync with the overall tone of the show. I'm not concerned, and am certain that this will be a great season of television. Still.

- Perhaps because this episode went after laughs thick and fast, particularly in the first half, and Walt, whose rage is something that is usually played for darkness and at he very least dark comedy. But by having Walt have not one, not two but three freakouts in the opening twenty minutes was perhaps overkill. ( Its four if you count the phone conversation)

-Ted, Saul then Jesse all felt the effects of Walt's increasingly cartoonish, increasingly pathetic wrath. There were some funny moments, but they seemed to come at the expense of the dramatic intensity the show has built up painstakingly.

- Still worth it for " Ill suit myself...TO HIS FACE."

- Still, if it wasn't a great episode for Walt's character, it was a stellar one for Hank. Dean Norris, has done some quietly strong character work on the show, especially as is his character started as a one-note joke. Regardless, his dedication to the Heisenberg case as a means to avoid going back to El Paso, AKA cartel territory was great stuff

- In particular, the scene with his superior, played excellently by the guy who told Edward Norton he was Tyler Durden in Fight Club, in which his covering bluster is temporarily removed and he is forced to admit he is afraid to go back to El Paso. Great acting from Norris.

- Loved the cold open, yet again. Increasingly the best thing about Breaking Bad. This time, we saw Jesse in full pusher mode. Not the arrogant idiot from season one, but a cold, intelligent, heartless dealer who is a fully fledged badass. Aaron Paul continues to be awesome and that may be the best two minutes of acting he's ever done on this show.

- On the gangster side of things, Gus Frings sets about manipulating the spiralling Walt back into the trade. By paying him for half of Jesse's self made stash. But I think Walt, whose life is increasingly like the lead protagonist from a Serious Man, having just been fired, lost his wife to Ted Beneke, having cancer and consistently exploding at the slightest provocation, is ready to go back. And i think next week, we'll see the return of Mas Walt, because what else has he got?

- No Cousins this week, but their presence is still felt by the sith they drew on Walt's driveway.

- Not a bad episode, and it certainly had its moments, both good and bad, but a little bit chaotic and lacking in the guided hand feel the show does so excellently.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 9 April 2010


Although this admission may somewhat lower my status as a man, and rightly so, I feel honesty is a crucial part of good criticism, so fuck it. In 2010, I have had yet to have a better time at a movie then Whip It. And yes it is about a female roller derby team and no this is not some misogynistic albeit hilarious joke. Its not the best movie, by a long, long way, but like its director Drew Barrymore, there simply is no need for substance when the surface is this charming and possessing such a glorious sense of fun. Sure its cliched, and rolls along like many a sports movie before it, and even features an entirely unironic training montage, but in her directorial debut, Barrymore infuses this world with such an a gleefully smartass indie earnestness, and that is somehow not irritating, that it won me over and then some.

But before the hurdle of clarification comes the explanation of my somewhat dramatic opening statement, because this year contained Kick-Ass, a film that many deem a masterpiece of entertainment value. But I don't know. It may be my own personal gripe, but films that seep irony quite like that keep itself and the viewer at arms length, and while it may be a worthier and better film then Whip it, as pretty much every film coming out of this side of the milky way would be, you can't quite immerse yourself and fall in like in quite the same way. The film plays like a sports movie Ghost World, keeping the same extreme indie mentality but exchanges much of the angst if not all of it for an infectious sense of fun and the joy of seeing people high on life without contrivance. If I were to ever fall entirely in love with a tone of movie, it would be this.

Ellen Page, in a role that proves she can be just as likable free of the hamburger phone, is obviously at ease with sarcastic asides and emotional hardassery, proves she can play naive and vulnerable just as well. I fact most of the dialogue of the quipping kind falls to best friend Alia Shawkat, Aka Maebe Funke from Arrested Development, and she is just as good. Its their chemistry together that draws the Ghost World comparison, and its nice to see genuine chemistry on screen between movie best friends, when its so often absent. Also great is Andrew Wilson as Page's roller Derby coach Razor, exhibiting much southern drollery and being consistently hilarious. Juliette Lewis makes for a workable villain, channeling her punk persona into PG-13 villain territory. Kristin Wiig and Marcia Gay Harden also do great, selfless supporting work. Even Jimmy Fallon, who was sent from hell to frustrate and annoy us all into blowing our brains out is not just tolerable but fairly funny.

But alas Journalistic integrity must intervene, and I must admit that there are things wrong. A few too many life lessons, forced on dramatic spats, a tacked on boyfriend subplot, and perhaps the occasional moment of immaturity drag it down, but hell. If you view cinema as a medium to entertain then Whip It is more then a sum of its parts. I wish like hell I could let myself give it an 8/10 but I can't quite do it. What a pussy.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Shelter

Low expectations are a wonderfully freeing thing. If you go into a movie expecting utter life-draining puss then the only moments that surprise you are the good parts. And if they don't come, well you can go home with a glorious sense of self-satisfaction, and if not well the world of movies can be a wondrously unpredictable place.

But not this time. Because Shelter became the kind of aimless, pointless dross that like countless others before it, exists to be the succubus to your movie going experience. It takes away your time and money and gives you jack all in return. To be fair I don't know what I was expecting. I new exactly what kind of film this was going to be before the first frame rolled. Was it the cast? probably. Any film with Julianne Moore in it is something I'm going to see, and for some reason all the way through Shelter, I kept thinking well Julianne Moore is in it, something logical must explain her presence here. There's going to be a mind-blowing twist to leave the predominance of my brain scattered between the back four rows. You know, because my mind would be blown. But no. Moore basically plays the same role Renee Zellweger did in Case 39, an overly concerned medical professional. She's not bad or anything, but its an empty role. But Moore has given enough great performances and been in enough great films for her to be forgiven many more missteps then this, she was Amber Waves for fuck's sake.

No if anyone was going to save this movie, it was going to be Henry VIII himself, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I've heard many of my film student contemporaries describe Meyers as a bad actor, but I don't think that's quite the case. I think he's more inconsistent, capable of some good work, but capable of some mind-numbing ( in keeping with my brain metaphor motif) appallingness also. Like Mark Wahlberg. And here he gets to play basically a supernatural version of John Lithgow's character in Raising Cain. Multiple personality may be an idea overused to the point of death, but Rhys Meyers treats this film like an audition tape, demonstrating his shy southern boy, obnoxious New Yorker, angry heavy metal musician, 8 year old girl, and 60 something doctor. And to be sure, he hit some better then others, but I enjoyed him a hell of a lot more then anything else in this movie. Fair play too to Frances Conroy and Nate Corrdry, who both give good performances with limited screentime.

A fairly bog-standard supernatural thriller, saved by a full-throttle, full marks for trying performance by Rhys Meyers. The movie veered close into 5/10 territory with a surprisingly dark ending, involving Moore having to kill her daughter in the form of Rhys Meyers, but then it chickened out. C'est La Vie. Enjoy widespread critical disdain assholes.

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, 8 April 2010

This Week's Movies

Whip It: Drew Barrymore's directorial debut featuring girls beating the crap out of each other on roller skates. Erm, Fuck yeah. Expectancy Level: 7/10

Shelter: Julianne Moore slums it in a 'psychological' horror co-starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who doesn't seem to be having one of his better days. Inevitable cack. Expectancy Level: 4/10

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Lost: Happily Ever After - To Whom The Rules Do Not Apply

Desmond episodes, in part to the nature of the character and part to the strength of Henry Ian Cusick's performance, are often the highlight of any given Lost season, and while I don't think that was quite the case here, it was one of the better season 6 hours. Was it the Constant though? Not really.

- Before I praise this show too much, I'll mention this is the second episode long diversion in three weeks, and while both were great episodes, it has broken the season's momentum that Sundown worked so hard to provide. Its good hours of TV at the expense of the season as a whole.


- So yeah, like 'Ab Aeterno', we had bookends of the present timeline whilst the bulk of the episode took place in an alternate timeline, in this case, an episode long Flash-Sideways.

- And while that sounds fairly horrific, it was just better then previous outings, too many of them being weak, thriller type plots and absent on character. This one was at least about Desmond, and in this case, one who had never known the love that drove him in our timeline, and he's much happier. An awesome corporate man, number two to Charles Widmore.

- So the first part of the episode was kind of a pre-emptive rip off of Get Him To The Greek, played straight, in which yuppie Desmond has to get junkie rock star Charlie to the gig on time. But Charlie has seen the light, as it were. In his near death experience, he had scene glimpses of what I can only assume was our time line. and how true and beautiful it is. So he basically wants to die, crashing his and Desmond's car into the lake to allow Desmond to see...

- Penny. It seems not even a dimensional reshuffle can keep these two apart. I'm not usually a fan of sci-show romance, as its usually executed so naffly, but I'll admit to Lost having nailed the Desmond Penny thing. Fair play guys. It doesn't come close to making up for the disaster of the love quadrangle in season 5, but whatever.

- I liked Monaghan's cameo. Charlie irritated the living piss out of me when he was a regular on this show, but in small doses he's a welcome presence.

- But that was my second favorite of the two cameos in this episode. Daniel Faraday! Welcome back Jeremy Davies, this show was retarded to kill you. What a great performance he gives.

- So the point of this episode, I think, was to essentially mission statement the rest of the season. To break free of The Matrix of the flash-sideways, and bust back into the regular reality. Happiness be damned.

- Am I sold on this? meh, we'll have to see how it plays out, but it sounds an awful lot like Jack having to convince everyone to come back to the island. Which would be yet another recycled plotline on this season of Lost.


- Lost's gone a bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in which the method to defeating the near unbeatable foe is a magical sci--fi gizmo that appears in the final act.

- Desmond is used as dry run for this machine, and I can only assume the intended effect occured.

- Is Widmore the hero of this show now?

- I hereby officially rename Ilana Watch to Zoe watch. As Zoe has become the most annoyingly irrelevant yet constant presence on Lost. No Ilana yet again btw.

- Why did Sayid not kill Zoe incidentally? Because she is a girl? don't be a homicidal sexist, Zombie Sayid.

- Desmond has been somehow enlightened by his time-bending adventures. I guess we'll find out how that goes

- A well-written, enjoyable episode of Lost, but it has me a little concerned as to the direction of the final episodes.

Rating: 8/10

Breaking Bad: I.F.T - The War Of The Whites

I should say that that my pithy little sub-heading stands for the increasingly bitter chess match of emotional devastation going on between Walt and Skylar, and not the uprising of some racist crusade. Jokes are always funnier if you explain them right. Right..Hello?

- First of all loving the title, which of course must stand for Skylar's brutal, cliffhanging revelation at the end of the episode. I.F.T = I fucked Ted. Basic wordplay is awesome.

- I liked this episode more then last week, and while we perhaps are quite low on thrilling gangster shenanigans, this saved the Walt vs. Skylar war plot from being slightly tiresome and distracting, as last week suggested it might be. It was tightly written and brought back that awesome slow-paced confidence that is the signature of this show, and it played out like a vicious slice of blackly comic melodrama, In which husband and wife try to get what they want from each other through manipulation and back-handedness. Now who says TV genre isn't inter-changeable.

- I'm pleased that the show did something with Walt breaking into Skylar's house, that it was actually a cunning move from Walt and not just an act of aimless desperation.

- More praise for Anna Gunn this week, who held her own against Bryan Cranston as so few people do.

- Now with the bulk of complimenting the show's deftness with dramatic intensity, lets move to the more outwardly badass moments from this week shall we. Danny Trejo returned in flashback form as the deceased Tortuga, who we last saw as a disembodied head crawling across the desert on a turtle. ( How awesome is this show.) Well in this week's cold open, we got to see how that came to be, as Trejo got beheaded by our fearsome cousins in a Bar back room.

- The cousins meanwhile, we seen in present narrative in a meeting with Gus Frings, Walt's shady drug-dealing boss man. Giancarlo Esposito is a great actor, and I'm loving his performance thus far and look forward to more of him. Frighteningly controlled. Frings put the cousins on the back-burner through his fairly awesome dealing, but those guys aren't going away.

- Jesse, meanwhile spent the episode calling the answer machine of his deceased girlfriend, which at first I found a little insipid, but when the machine got disconnected mid-call, that was some poignant shit.

- But this episode was in many ways the fusion of gangster Walt and Family man Walt, thus far they have existed in different universes, one denying each others existence, seem to be melding into one single deluded monster, as Walt wins back his family through amoral means.

- perhaps the show's second best hour of family drama thus far, behind the season two masterpiece ' Down' which will never be topped I think.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 3 April 2010

REVIEW: Remember Me

So I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about Robert Pattinson in this review, because he's the reason for its being here pretty much, and its the beginning of his attempt to have a future career outside of fangirl masturbatory fantasies ( I'll bet you didn't think you'd read that sentence today) so that is the film's main legacy, whether it should be or not. Reviewers have been floating around the James Dean comparison more then once, and its not hard to see why. He represents the same unknowable iconcism, but whereas Dean had a little more to offer to stand next his poster boy image, Pattinson is I think every bit his poster boy image and no more. All the aspirations of depth and soulfulness he shoots for in Remember Me, don't quite land, he's too conscious of himself and thus the character becomes a falsehood. Its not a bad performance, and he's not that a bad actor, but he's not Holden Caulfield either. It stops at Edward Cullen for this guy.

Pattinson aside, Remember is a serviceable enough romance/family melodrama, that's relatively nuanced in its familiar moments and steps. There's good performances from Chris Cooper, who is good in everything to be fair, Pierce Brosnan and from child actress Ruby Jerins, who really has no right to be that good. I look forward to her inevitable casting as an evil kid in a Jap-horror rip off. And then there's the final twist, which despite its surface exploitativeness, actually worked quite well for me and took this film up at least one grade. It might be manipulative, but its cleverly manipulative, which is what you want for your standard melodrama right. The central romance between Lost's Emilie De Ravin and Pattinson is OK I guess, and De Ravin gives a good account of herself, but its not the most affecting or original thing you'll ever see.

If I were R Pattz, I'd perhaps try and play away from the iconicist angle, because it sure is some pigeonholing shit, and if he wants to be an actor and not just a sex symbol he'll have to spread his wings a bit more then this. That's the problem with stunt casting of this nature is that I, and no doubt every critic across the world and further will eat into their text space debating the merits and detraction's of Robert Pattinson rather then the merits and detraction's of Remember Me. But it only has itself to blame for that.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: Clash Of The Titans

Who the fuck decided that Sam Worthington was a movie star. Was it James Cameron, because I'm pretty sure he cast him because he was a nobody. McG? Well I think he was too busy having the most ridiculous name of all time to think on much of anything else. Well whoever it was, fuck you. Fuck you for inflicting a potential 10 years of a guy, who is (somewhat paradoxically) offensively bland. I didn't realize that an actor being boring could get so ferociously in my grill, but there you go. Its not just that he can't act, which he really, really can't, its that he delivers every line in with his intensity face on, regardless of what he is saying or the situation he is in.

Look, this is a movie called Clash Of The Titans, about giant-ass monsters and a checklist of greek mythology's baddest bads, so I'm not expecting Olivier or anything, but a basic understanding of human emotion would be nice Sam. Douchebag. And where the fuck is his long hair? No-one had a buzzcut in ancient Greece. Not even the cool guys. But anyway, I digress. This movie to sum it up in the simplest sense, is an adventure movie without any sense of adventure. In which monsters are perfectly realized but devoid of life and the movie ends up taking up the identity of its leading man, it may look fine but there's nothing worth caring about.

I guess someone could submit the notion that watching Ralph Fiennes do his Voldemort thing has some value, but Fiennes has been better villains then this, and I can feel how little he gives a shit radiate off every line. Liam Neeson tries to play it straight, but by doing so ends up on the camper side of things. I kind of dug Mads Mikkelson as Worthington's pseudo-mentor, and he has the kind of quiet intensity Worthington wishes he did. But this is a cynical creation, made to make money and destined to disappear from whence it came once its made its money.

If Sam Worthington were a movie it would be Clash Of the Titans. Proficient but dull and uninspiring. I'd never thought I'd say this, but Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief is the superior Greek Mythology movie of the year.

Rating: 4/10

Lost: The Package - That Sun And Jin Thing

So we're roughly half way in to this final season, maybe a bit more than halfway, and to be honest this is one of the weaker seasons of Lost. Everything seems a little too familiar with the writers recycling plots a bit too liberally, and most importantly week to week the quality just hasn't been that great. Its not been bad or anything, and I'm sure it will pick it up when it hits the home stretch. But still, it is a slight anti-climax.

- Why all this blurb for this episode, well like Recon, Lighthouse and most painfully What Kate Did before it, its a staller of an episode, in which I can feel the writers just killing time. And in the back half of the final season, there is no excuse for that.


- The Sun and Jin episodes, traditionally, are not the strongest episodes of Lost, not really because I dislike the characters or the performances, but because they are too heavily defined by their relationship. There's been nothing doing for Sun for the last two seasons, except the writers telling us that she loves her husband. This depressingly continued tonight.

- This doesn't help the flash-sideways are not a pointless waste of time argument. It just feels like padding. Some more weak thrillerish stuff with loan shark Keamy.

- Even in ridiculous OTT mode, Keamy is still awesome.

- The funny thing is, Sun gets shot at the end of the flash-sideways, and it did absolutely NOTHING to me. A six year season regular might die and it doesn't matter a slightest. Because for some reason, this alternate reality stuff just doesn't matter, and I think its not just my problem. I think they've been to kitschy (Sawyer the cop being the most irritating example for me) with it, and its distancing.

- Still I like Yunjin Kim, I think this show has never known what to do with her beyond season 1 and she's been good regardless.


- The wheels are edging forward, but slowly. I'm not sure I'm down with this whole Widmore back on the island thing, he's a boring archetype of a character and I'm not sure he's worth 5 episodes of the final season being about him.

- That being said, I dug his face off with Evil Locke. That was fairly awesome. You can never have enough Terry O Quinn.

- I think Daniel Dae Kim's performance as Jin is what you'd call workmanlike. His no frills, no fuss attitude can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on the scene.

- For fuck's sake Lost, not content with one fairly boring randomer like Ilana, they seem to be shoving 'Zoe' down our throat too. Seriously I don't care that you're a geologist bitch, why am I with you and not the show regulars. Why?

- I think Naveen Andrews is killing as zombie Sayid. I've said before he's the secret weapon of this show, and has been since its inception.

- " Because that would be ridiculous."

- Seriously, 10 episodes in and no-one is dying. No-one. not even the fillers like Ilana or Miles. They've got a lot of people to kill in six episodes.

- Desmond! Yeah. And I'll bet he gets next week's episode too. Maybe Widmore will finally bite it.

- Not bad, but certainly not great. Needing a strong finish now.

Rating: 6/10