Archive for the ‘2007’ Category

2008 Round-Up Review – Kept You Waiting, Huh

March 9, 2009

2008 was nowhere near as stellar a year for movies as 2007, but any year without There Will Be Blood, No Country, Michael Clayton, The Mist and a new Ghost in the Shell movie will suffer.

BUT. 2008 was one helluva year for genre film. Probably the best since 1999 or 1982. Those years gave us The Matrix, Iron Giant, Blade Runner, Wrath of Khan… y’know. Classics. 2008 has some serious future classics as well.

First let’s go backwards. The worst of the lot:

Worst Movies:

Rambo – In my review I wondered if I would ever warm up to this big stupid, bloody gore-stravaganza. I’ve liked dumber movies. And well, I kinda did warm up to it. Not a whole lot, mind you! It’s no great piece of art by any means but it’s worth seeing for… for… for the carnage. Yes. That’s it. It’s almost… cathartic? Is that cliche? Well, then, it fits. For a movie so full of cliche – bad guys kill good people, good guys kill bad guys – it executes every single one of them visceral aplomb. Recently, in the comments section I defend Stallone as someone who knows exactly how to pander to a sick, depraved audience. Genius or not, he knows what he’s doing. Just look at who he’s casting in his next movie, The Expendables. Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker, Jason Statham, Jet Li, ARNOLD … Bastard’s got my money again.

Quantum of Solace – I warmed up to Rambo’s idiocy, but I grew even colder towards James Bond’s latest escapade. I actively hate Quantum of Solace more and more with each passing day, my thoughts coalescing into a ball of climactic hotel-destroying fury. A misfire in every possible way. Dull villain, wafer-thin plot, pointless Bond girls – a boring Bond. Way to squander that reboot, fellas. Can’t believe ya did, but ya did. At least there’s still Bourne.

Pineapple Express – Hey, we got a weekend, some weed and woods in the backyard. Let’s make a movie!

Harold and Kumar 2 – Poop poop poop poop poop poop outdated George Bush jokes poop poop poop poop poop celebrity cameo poop poop poop poop poop. $10.75 please.

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(grumplet) Youth Without Youth: Film Without Coherence

May 18, 2008

Ohhhh boy. I decided to watch Francis Ford Coppola’s latest release, Youth Without Youth. That’s right, Francis Ford Coppola. The same guy that directed The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. He hasn’t done a movie in about a decade (do we count Supernova?) and he’s now able to release self-financed films that cater to no one but his own desires. Which, as it turns out, is a scary, scary thing.

ROSES

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My Man – American Gangster

April 20, 2008

More than any other director Ridley Scott has defined the alien Other. A quick look at his oeuvre confirms a fascination with putting a human face on threats to the status quo. Blade Runner is the ur-text. Deckard hunts down Replicant slaves for simply being. Black Rain, another 80s urban noir deals with the Japanese economic threat. Thelma & Loise looks at destructive feminism. Kingdom of Heaven‘s extended cut delves much deeper into the war between Muslims and Christians. Though it may look like an Army recruitment ad Black Hawk Down‘s depiction of gunning down Somali slums disturbs for its Counter-Strike-like detachment. And of course, Alien.

Er, not exactly sure how A Good Year fits in the scheme.

His latest, American Gangster, takes aim at black gangster/entrepreneur Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who pulled together a drug empire in Harlem using an impressive array of know-how passed onto him by his late gangster mentor “Bumpy” Johnson, played in flashbacks with lasting aplomb by Clarence Williams III (the wacko storyteller from Tales From The Hood). Using Bumpy’s wisdom – mainly: be smart, stay hidden – Lucas butts heads (shoots them, too) with the flashier crime lords of the neighborhood and beats them all at the drug game thanks to his U.S. military connection in South East Asia. With easy access to a Bangkok village brewing pure heroin Lucas sells to the entire tri-state area, gaining the attention of honest Newark police detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe).

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Before the Devil Knows You’re Bored

April 17, 2008

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead starts off on the wrong foot. Or the right foot! I can’t decide! Ugh. It’s Philip Seymour Hoffman banging Marisa Tomei’s butt – which is a great butt. They say women in Hollywood are over after 40 but man, she’s got a better body than most women half her age. Shame she only shows up in this movie topless and/or crying!

Hey there

Oh! So anyway, as you can imagine, this movie is the exact opposite of Enchanted. This is the real world in all its shitty glory … Ethan Hawke owes everyone in the world money and generally leads the worst life. Philip and Ethan Hawke are brothers who rob their parents’ jewelry shop because they’re desperate, awful and stupid. Ethan’s the wimpy one of the family so there’s a big emphasis on having balls and not being a faggot and wanting lots of money – Philip brags about pulling in “six figures” and knowing all the angles, and he loves the word “faggot.” He’s a big dumb drug-addicted gorilla. In fact, big dumb masculinity covers the whole movie, and money – the ultimate symbol of patriarchal success – is super-super-important.

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Utmost Disney – Enchanted

April 16, 2008

Enchanted is a very problematic film. The zenith of everything Disney has done in the past century is all right here – it is the quintessential Disney movie. Singing animals, talking animals, good-natured princes, stupid lackeys, evil queens, moron princesses are all accounted for, modernized, sleek, and polished to a magic mirror sheen, overflowing with staggering Broadway charisma. It’s a huge, expensive-looking production with a short prologue of the gorgeous animation Disney used to be known for.The twist: the animated critters wind up in real-life New York and mingle with real people. Hardly reaching the stratospheric politicizing of the similarly-premised Fables comics, Enchanted offers hints of intelligence and the obligatory Shrek-esque winks at how silly the animated-real-life merge is, but the message at the end is the same as it’s been since Snow White: girls, be cute, be dumb, attract a rich guy, marry him then stay home. The highly-recommended Fables is all about how there is no happily ever for our favorite fantasy characters. Life is a never-ending a struggle where you divorce, lose your home and lose your faith.

LA LA LA

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Luc Besson Redux Redux Redux – Hitman

April 10, 2008
Hitman has the tiny, tiny distinction as one of the better video game adaptations out there. Not that I have any experience with the games, or that distinction is anything to be proud of, but as a silly, overcooked actioner Hitman is not as horrible as its Ave Maria-infused trailers (they had the word “Brilliance!” flash across the screen for some reason) would lead you to believe. It’s just a formulaic, dopey action flick. Strip away everything that identifies it as an adaptation, like the barcode on the back of Hitman’s neck – and the tacked-on backstory – and Hitman has all the tenets of “the hitman with a heart” sub-genre. You know it, it’s what Luc Besson based his entire career around: Nikita, then later Leon the Professional, before he finally settled with producing The Transporter movies – oh, and this one. (Others I would include in the genre are some Westerns, samurai flicks and especially Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, and even the Rurouni Kenshin anime.)

You look tired, Pam.
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Performance Review – Flag

March 12, 2008

Y’know, it’s sort of weird. Between Magus and I, I’m probably the bigger anime fan. But I haven’t done a SINGLE anime grump. Why is that?

I’ve been planning to. I’ve SEEN my share of anime since starting this blog. But the plan doesn’t seem to gel. It doesn’t help that my relationship to the genre has been strained for a while. To put it bluntly, anime has sort of alienated me. I used to love anime for its complicated plots, intricate characters and striking visual design/animation. I think this was sort of a fallacy that I’d built for myself.

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