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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Azaria’

Kick Ass: The film served many purposes for me. Interesting fight sequences, a respectable amount of gore and a story that lends itself to be vaguely interesting. Matter of fact, if it weren’t for Peter Stebbings’ Defendor, I would have liked it a whole lot more. Aaron Johnson is Dave Lizewski, geek by day and Kick Ass, geek in a retarded costume by night. Aaron has put in considerable effort into the role, trying to come across as the Tin Man with a purple heart, but I guess he’s at least a decade and a few Natural Born Killers away from bringing the sort of credibility that Woody Harrelson does in Defendor. Thankfully, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as D’Amico Jr / Red Mist, Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl and Garrett M. Brown as Mr Lizewski tune in good performances and make this film worth a second viewing. I wasn’t a fan of Mark Strong as the psychotic gangster; he uses the same steely-eyed glares from the Archie character in Rock N Rolla to convey pretty much every emotion from anger to excitement and it doesn’t quite work this time around. The conversations between him and his son (Mintz-Plasse) make it glaringly obvious that one of them is trying really hard and the other clearly phoning it in.

Nicolas Cage’s awkward tribute to Adam West almost ruins the entire film. He even reenacts Mel Gibson’s Freedom cry in Braveheart right before his own daughter (Chloe) fittingly puts a bullet in his head and ends his misery and ours, as well. I’ve heard there has been a lot of public outrage regarding the full-on violence and gore involving teens in Kick Ass, to which I can only reiterate, go read the goddam crime section of your local newspaper. Our world can be a messed-up violent place where children and angels get hurt all the time. We aren’t ostriches to stick our heads into the mud and pretend that everything is fine. Plus, when global food and water shortage along with genetic mutation run rampant in the near future, we’d look like absolute morons, getting our faces devoured by zombies and our refrigerators pillaged by those surviving, mostly comprising horror movie buffs and wrestlers. Uhmmm. Yeah.

Daisy Chain: Aisling Walsh’s The Daisy Chain thrives on the weight of superlative performances from its lead actors. Samantha Morton is one of the best actresses to have graced indy films recently. She’s the Parker Posey of the 2000s, taking up roles that would leave A-list actresses breathless from the fright of having to read a well-written screenplay. Then there’s Steven Mackintosh, the stoner guy who had that killer “You went out six hours ago to buy a money counter and you come back with a semi-conscious Gloria and a bag of fertilizer. Alarm bells are ringing” line in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He’s in such great form in The Daisy Chain that you can almost hear a time bomb ticking every time he hides his discontentment. These two play a grieving couple who have moved to a remote Irish village to mourn their daughter’s death only to be scared shitless by a bug-eyed spooky autistic kid (Mhairi Anderson as Daisy).

Trouble brews to a feverish pitch soon enough, with Martha (Samantha) obsessively considering adopting the little critter and Tomas (Steven) all convinced that Daisy’s a nasty fairy who brings awful luck to all those close to her. The ending falls slightly off track, but with all the great acting and fantastic cinematography by Simon Kossoff, we can hardly even notice such fallacies.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Director Mike Hodges took a long absence from directing films after releasing the stylishly film noir Croupier, with Clive Owen. Fifteen years later, he comes back to make I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, a darker and grittier slice of film noir that follows Will Graham on his trail to uncovering the facts behind his younger brother’s suicide. Clive Owen, playing Will, is back to complement Hodges’ no-nonsense storytelling with his Cary Grant meets Red Dragon charisma-slash-viciousness. He’s almost hypnotically brooding in both movement and dialogue; great look too, sort of like a moody Hell’s Angels member who theorizes passages from Wuthering Heights when he’s not raising hell.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who actually doesn’t muck about as much as I thought he did, is a treat to watch as he brings out his character’s cockiness without breaking a sweat; he plays Davey – Will’s sibling – a carefree drug dealer and part-time hustler. Malcolm McDowell however grabs the spotlight from everybody in sight. He’s spectacular as Boad, the vicious man in a suit and deserves as much credit as William Hurt did in History Violence and Karthik in Mouna Ragam. His monologue towards the end is so good that it qualifies as disturbing. Also, Mike Hodges was the brains behind the Get Carter – the original version.

Eulogy: This story about a family wallowing in the confines of their socially-retarded suburban wasteland rinses and repeats from a long list of movies about dysfunctional families. It borrows a bit from Death At A Funeral (dad’s funeral, sexual deviances), and throws in a few scenes from American Beauty (quasi-unhappy conclusions), Royal Tenenbaums (genetic disorder) and such. Director Michael Clancy realizes that it’s a formula that would only work if the actors brought something unique to it; luckily for him a few of them do. Despite its unoriginality, Eulogy is entertaining in respectable portions. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t show any of the decay that films like Failure To Launch and The Happening would soon have her fruitlessly fighting against. Here she’s still one of the reigning indy queens, wide-eyed, seductively pale-faced, uncomfortably adjusting her shoulders, pursing her lips and squinting her eyes to squeeze out every bit of intensity. Hank Azaria, Kelly Preston and Debra Winger also bring it like we know they can. Ray Romano breaks free of his sort of squeaky-clean sitcom image and goes all Bob Saget on us, saying scandalous stuff like “don’t throw a lemon at me in front of a lesbian”. Sometimes it makes you laugh, other times it makes you go “where have I heard that before?”. Sort of like this movie.

Sherlock Holmes: Did Guy Ritchie have an orgy with Van Helsing DVDs, the entire cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and lots of mescaline before directing this? This is ‘Michael Keaton as Batman’ bad. No. No. Scratch that. This reaches ‘George Clooney as Batman’ levels of depravity. Also, casting Jude Law as Dr Watson has set the benchmark for boneheaded-ness unless someone builds a time machine, kidnaps Zac Efron and goes back in time to convince Sydney Pollack to cast him as Dorothy Michaels to Dustin Hoffman’s Michael Dorsey in Tootsie.

Death At A Funeral (2010): First director Neil LaBute absolutely murdered The Wicker Man, one of the finest horror films ever, and left its corpse rotting in Nicholas Cage’s trophy case. Now he has surgically removed everything that was funny in Frank Oz’s Death at a Funeral, a great Brit rib tickler, and left us with a piss-poor version of it that features the tamest of the Def Jam comedy crew. Thank heavens he at least had the fortitude to retain Peter Dinklage from the original and as expected, his awesomeness is the only saving grace in this film. Everything else hurts as much as this.

Also, me like the reviews at http://www.pajiba.com. Me thinks you might too.

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vanishing point

Vanishing Point: I dig neither speed nor metal. The combination of both on a desolate highway gets me as excited as a rabid wolverine at a veggie salad bar. This is why I used to sneer at anyone who asked me watch Richard Sarafian’s Vanishing Point. Imagine…a film about a half-maverick half-psychotic driver called Kowalski who is set to deliver a 1970 Dodge Challenger drives from Colorado to San Francisco with a tagline that says “it’s the maximum trip at maximum speed”. Hell, I thought I’d be laughing during the course of film, thinking about when some shitty Kenny Loggins song is going to disrupt an even shittier chase sequence.

Vanishing Point is probably the only film about cars that I have ever liked (apart from Rajasekar’s Patti Sollai Thattathe which kinda ruled). Finally I have something intelligible to utter other than ‘oh wow’ or ‘uhhh I see’ whenever my friends or colleagues start babbling about Choppers, Porsches and that questionably invigorating vrooooom sound that one of those BMW cars make. Instead of pretending to give a shit, now I can try my best to look cool and say, “go watch Vanishing Point fuckers.” Having said that, avoid the 1997 remake with Viggo Mortensen like you would the monkey plague, it makes Torque seem watchable.

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The sound production and cinematography were two of the biggest reasons (along with the storyline or rather the lack of one) as to why the original seemed vastly superior. The sound reminded me of those old Seventies rock albums on audiotapes… frantic, crafty and a little murky, but attractively so. The soundtrack  itself is all kinds of awesome; little surprise it is that Quentin Tarantino hails this film as one of his inspirations. On the visual front, cinematographer John Alonzo has had his way with the vast landscape of the highway and the sweltering sun up in the sky; no real surprise that over the next few decades, he would continue to inspire beauty in visually-stunning films such as Chinatown and Grass Harp. The detour that the driver takes into the sandy desert is beautifully done, with the tyre marks forming mysterious patterns that make a whole of sense when seen in retrospect. I’m also really glad that the Kowalski character (aptly played by Barry Newman) wasn’t prone to theatrics; no overtly heroic deeds, no moral dilemma and mercifully, no ‘ooh naked lady on the bike, must woo and screw” and “dam rattlesnake, must kill you with my fingernails” scenes.

super soul

Blind radio jockey Super Soul (Cleavon Little), free-spirited chopper rider Angel (Timothy Scott) and the Prospector (Dean Jagger) play the kind, decidedly crazy souls who come to Kowalski’s aid. Despite the redundancy of their collective liberal state of mind, they really do fit in with the grander scheme of things – Kowalski’s journey. Let me pull the curtains down on this one with a comment by some bloke called Tom Darwin from IMDB…“stop wondering why Kowalski, on his quest for speed, is always being overtaken and passed by other vehicles; just put your brain on neutral, put your popcorn where it’s handy, and buckle up.”

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Lymelife: Indie films make me feel all fuzzy and warm. No matter how emotionally overblown or fantastically silly they are, most of them are perfect precursors for lazy Sunday siestas. The commonalities between them range from the lucidity in which the frames move from one to another and gratuitously ambitious soundtracks chockfull of bisexual alt-country guitarists to anticlimactic and most often abrupt endings and random A-list guest appearances. Some of them become so full of themselves that they actually end up making that uneasy transformation into big-screen blockbusters; even so, they still remain cutely apologetic of such popularity. Case in point, Little Miss Sunshine and Juno to a lesser extent. Derick Martini’s Lymelife is one of the least interesting indie films I have seen over the past few years, but that probably has more to the do with the quality of similar films. While it doesn’t even begin to sniff the greatness that is the list of indie gems such as Station Agent, Mean Creek, Thumbsucker, Igy Goes Down and many others, Lymelife still gets a minor thumbs up on the weight of few its actors.

Cynthia Nixon doesn’t count because she is a regular on that terrible sitcom. Oh yes people, there are certain things artists do that just cannot be forgiven. She could crap Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony Movement on cue, but I’d still hold that ‘Sex In The City’ card against her. Alec Baldwin is convincing as the assholish husband, but in the later parts of the film when he has to be more of a husband than an asshole, it seems a little less believable.

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The cake, if I had any, would undoubtedly go to Kieran Culkin who plays Jimmy Bartlett, a kid desperately seeking a young lassie by the name of Adrianna (Emma Roberts) and solace from his dysfunctional family. Timothy Hutton has a neat role too; he plays the Lyme-diseased Charlie Bragg who suffers just as many migraines as bouts of nagging from his wife. Most of all, I dug the ending and its lack of melodrama. Sort of like the Requiem For A Dream climax, but without the drug-infested gloom permeating the piteous decay of humanity.

The Big Nothing: Almost everyone reading this by now probably knows at least three of Ross’ girlfriends. They’d never admit it because lord knows – it is seriously uncool for an intellectual to confess to having seen at least one million out the eleventy billion episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Who in their insidiously pretentious mind in fact would? For someone who can probably hold his own in a trivia about the sitcom, I can safely say that Ross was one of the few characters I could watch without feeling the urge to stick a café mocha up my superfluous ass. I even liked that Run Fat Boy Run movie that had David Schimmer directing Simon Pegg and Hank Azaria! I like this one better and it has Mr Pegg in it too, but funnier, darker and more in tune with what made him completely awesome in Shaun Of The Dead.

Big Nothing

In Jean Baptiste Andrea‘s The Big Nothing, Schwimmer plays Charlie, a former professor who gets fired on his first day at a call center. Enter Gus (Simon Pegg), a scam artist who almost isn’t clever enough to count as one and former pageant queen Josie (Alice Eve) who convince Charlie to join them in a seemingly “snag-free plan to make some cash” involving Internet porn and men of cloth.

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Of course things go wrong; with hearts, promises, arms, words and skulls broken all at once. The climax did take more turns than I had cared for, but the final frame in which…well, you’ll see…works wonderfully well. Schwimmer and Pegg are funny as hell, especially the first time their characters meet. Something about Gus is so perversely pathetic that you want to slap really hard before telling him that things might be ok after all. Charlie is just one of those characters you end up feeling sorry for; then months after watching the film, one fine day you’d wake up finally understanding why you probably shouldn’t have.

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