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Posts Tagged ‘harmony korine’

Ice Age III: Ice Age III is the Leprechaun III and IV of its generation. Unnecessary, irritating and damming proof that kicking a dead horse is funny only when it is not used as a metaphor. I can think of only two genuinely funny moments…a prehistoric ostrich chick getting knocked out trying to bury its head on ice, and a deer making fun of the Sabretooth tiger (Diego) for being old and wounded. Hmmm…maybe they should have had a couple of velociraptors beat the crap out of a prehistoric horse. Nah, even that couldn’t save this film. P.S: I loved Ice Age I.

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Nowhere: Gregg Araki’s cult status could conquer a small Polynesian Island if it wanted to. Such is his intensity for stirring up emotions through films. There is myriad of expectations (mostly underground, I hear) that greet his efforts. Many assume that an Araki film is more or less doomed to to cross cinematic taboos and explode in the face of every art movie critic while others thump their bibles (or any religious souvenir of choice) and plot devious schemes to keep his films away from their sons and daughters. Maybe I am overhyping the fellow a bit too much, but for what it’s worth his 1997 film – Nowhere – is 88 minutes of nauseating brilliance.

In fact even Araki’s description of it as “a Beverly Hills 90210 episode on acid” seems to fall short of capturing its vivid concoction of sex, drugs, teenage confusion and the devastating aftermath of its collective tryst with romance and violence. James Duval (Dark) and Rachel True (Mel) who plays his girlfriend deserve special mention. The colour of death in their eyes is scary and it almost blinds me to the fact that Shannen Doherty and Heather Graham share the same space with these largely unknown actors. Watch it as you would a Harmony Korine film…with hesitation and with someone at an arm’s length to tell you to persist with it.

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Mysterious Skin: While Nowhere was raw and intense, Mysterious Skin is far more cautious in its approach to let its characters toy with the audience’s perception of their lives. Having said that, I must warn you that there is absolutely no redemption in Mysterious Skin, so do not expect Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to get together with Brian (Brady Corbet) and sell surfboards near the warm Atlantic Ocean by the end of the film. Neither is it a heart-warming story about kids dealing with sexual abuse. Gregg Araki has taken a very weird path in this one. It starts off by giving us parallel stories of Neil and Brian – two kids whose slices of Americana have been distasteful and crippling; both seemingly victims of various stages of child abuse. One of them goes on a downward spiral while the other represses the memory and instead gives it enough leeway to screw with his head .

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A few of the graphic scenes and the urgency of their appearance almost hinder what is otherwise a decent film. Tthankfully, the actors spare us the loose dramatization of pain and violence, which could have made for tedious viewing. I expect better things from Gordon Lewitt in the future. First Brick, now this. Good boy. As for Bill Sage who plays Coach with such dedication to all things Eighties porn-y and ultra-fucking sleazy, good for him too. I bet his wife never looked at him the same way again. Yes, that’s a compliment.

Scratch: See, this is why I lug my ass all the way to Old Parsons Complex and sit there in front of scornful air-conditioning to purchase DVDs instead of downloading them. With the sheer amount of strangely moving art out there, I sometimes feel that only actual physical and accidental glances might bring me closer to the more obscure ones (…cue American Beauty theme song). During one such visit, I came across Scratch – a documentary by Doug Pray on the fascinating culture of turntablism.

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Since I have not ventured too far into the nuances of this art form (apart from DJ Shadow, DJ Krush and Danger Mouse), I had a great time discovering how deep the roots of scratching sink into popular and underground culture. Even if your musical tastes exist beyond the boundaries of hip-hop, give Scratch a try…it can never be inconsequential to watch and listen to artists wax poetic/lyrical/egomaniacal about their music. Of course, I was not a big fan of the DJ Jazzy Jeff’s presence; any man who thinks Will Smith can rap is an idiot in my book.

Thankfully, there is enough lyricism in the way the others have expressed their thoughts on turntablism; so much that I am almost tempted to write letters emails to DJ Qbert or DJ Shadow and to tell them that they are A-Ok in my book. They, of course, would laugh uproariously at the magnificent pointlessness of my imaginary book and then we would get together, listen to some Afrika Bambaataa and make prank calls to Lil John. Hmmm…silly fantasies aside, seriously people, give Scratch a spin.

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Transformers II: I thought I’d just post a link to Srikanth’s hilarious review in Seventh Art (brevity is an art), but the prospect of trashing this shit is too much fun to pass. Here we go…take everything you could hate about the 1980s sitcom Small Wonder and throw in all the moments during which you were 80% sure that Robocop was going to cry. Wait, wait…not crappy enough. Matter of fact, why don’t you – the good reader – eat some Mexican food and think about how bad Rajnikanth’s Robo is going to be when it eventually gets released. Now, with that sadness in your heart and steamy bile in your abdomen, take a dump. Yes. That’s how bad Transformers II stinks.

P.S: I hated Transformers I, as well.

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gran-torinoGran Torino: For my money, Gran Torino is the best mainstream American film of the year. Probably Clint Eastwood’s finest performance as a director and actor too. I’m sort of glad that it was left out from the Best Picture category and the general Oscar hype. Now I don’t have to hear people talk about how it wasn’t as good as Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby. It can peacefully rest on its armchair along with other brilliant American films such as Tears Of Julian Po, Wrestling Ernest Hemmingway and Woman Under The Influence. They could possibly spend afternoons discussing how less of a fuck their directors had given about their popularity and how much better it secretly made them feel. Aging, I think, should be reserved for gentlemen and I dare you find a gentler soul sneering at you in utter disdain than Walt Kowalski.

b00006g9w102lzzzzzzzBully: Larry Clark and Harmony Korine have been responsible for some of the most visceral teen movies that America has ever (or never) even. Right from Ken Park, Julien-Donkey Boy and Gummo to Kids and Bully, each film was a brutally realistic depiction of what kids went through while socializing and having sex. Having said that, these weren’t particularly good films… I think Kids was the best of the lot, purely based on the last line delivered by Leo Fitzpatrick towards the end of the film. Gummo possibly is the most pretentious one because it tries to deny the fact that beneath the vile imagery there is a scantily clad social message. Bully is somewhere in-between. Based on a true story about yet another brutal teen slaying, it features actors, actress, children, cuss words, rape scenes and sexual perversions. Too bad that it’s 2009 and we got to see all those things on news channels. Edgy? Maybe. Brilliant? Certainly not. But have a looksie anyway…just to see what Harmony and Clark were once capable of.

Yes Man: Kollywood comedian Vivek’s 8,765th saccharine-coated jab against Chennai’s traffic is funnier than Jim Carey’s new film. And Vivek hasn’t been even remotely funny for the better part of the decade.

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Notorious: Anyone who has a perfectly surface-level understanding of American pop culture over the decades will know that the hip hop community during the early Nineties was split up into two factions – East Coast and West Coast. With 2pac Shakur (Tupac Amaru Shakur) and Biggie Smalls (Christopher Wallace) playing alpha males in each of these factions, guns were drawn, rhythms were laid out and verses spat against each other. What triggered the rivalry and more importantly, who struck the first blow is something a lot of people didn’t know back then and even now have barstool conversations to ponder about. Director George Tillman does a pretty decent job at capturing the frustration that drove a young Biggie to the microphone, but he falls flat on all things concerning the darkest phase of hip-hop. The bias in favour of the East Coast takes an annoying turn when he portrays West Coast legend 2pac as a paranoid lunatic craving for attention and worse, unnecessary ‘beef’ with a brother. He even makes Biggie out to an innocent, over-excitable kid from the Bronx who didn’t understand why everyone just couldn’t hold hands and get along as the good Lord intended. I’m going to call bullshit on this one. I guess, the most enjoyable moments in Notorious involve Biggie Smalls on the microphone, even though I am sort of in shock over the exclusion of Machine Gun Funk. For what it’s worth, I’m glad that even the East Coast thinks Puff Daddy fucking sucks.

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The Happening: The first 30 minutes of this film is vaguely interesting. The rest is Al Gore’s wet dream. I’d prefer minor surgery to watching this again.

Hellboy II: Director Guillermo Del Toro has brought along influences from Pan’s Labyrinth to Hellboy’s latest adventure. The visual effects are trippy, the dialogues are witty on cue and the storyline engaging enough to take a rain-check on those cigarette breaks. Special mention to Prince Nuada and the nasty tooth-fairies…both ostensibly kick loads of butt.

Kids: Director Larry Clark is on a mission to shock us into recognizing the truth. His intentions are respectable but the crude depiction of pre-pubescent street life leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Showcasing the decadent youth culture of America’s armpits is all fine and dandy, but I didn’t appreciate the crassness of Clark’s attempt. Apparently 19-year old Harmony Korine wrote the script for Kids; that’s probably the only thing about this film that didn’t shock me.

Walk Hard, Life and Times of Dewey Cox: This is a spoof film that pokes fun at Ray, Walk The Line and I’m Not There. The latter is probably incidental. The jokes are pretty much standard fare with a few standouts. Lil’ Dewey Cox sawing his brother in half results in hilarity. But seriously, I just don’t understand John C Reilly gets crappy roles; he’s such a fine actor.

Hero: I was always of the opinion that you needed to be under the influence to enjoy what Jet Li does. Despite drawing heavily from Rashomon, the film nevertheless adds credibility to this callous opinion of mine. But rest assured, even in sobriety you can’t help but admire the visual splendor of Hero. It’s almost as though the director has fulfilled a secret desire to be a painter. Quite a lovely painting, it is.

The Ruins: Take notes, Mr Night Shyamalan…this is how you make a film about flora wreaking bloody havoc on humans. Not the most intricate of concepts, but the film builds up the characters rather nicely and then makes them suffer adequately. In fact, it ends up doing fair justice to the creepy crawly genre.

Stranger Than Fiction: This probably is the warmest film to light up my television screen since I Heart Huckabees. Will Ferrell plays Harold Crock, an IRS auditor whose life is all but a story currently being written by the bitterly poignant Emma Thompson, a tragic author who hasn’t published in over a decade. The third person narrative is a part of the storyline and it works, wonderfully too. Ferrell gives up his screwball cult status to deliver a very clever performance. His love interest in the film Maggie Gyllenhall is outrageously gorgeous, as a woman and more astutely, as an actress. I could go on and on since there are so many things right about Stranger Than Fiction. I think I’ll just let Roger Ebert wrap things up in a nutshell. “Such an uncommonly intelligent film does not often get made”. I’ll gleefully second that.

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