Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘independence day’

Director Roland Emmerich loves blowing things up. Stuff keeps going up in flames in his films all the time. He lets loose giant lizards (Godzilla), extraterrestrial beings (Independence Day) and bulging muscles (Van Damme in Universal Soldier) to wreak havoc on-screen. Truth be told, I’m glad he’s a Hollywood director. Lord knows the combination of working-class woes and homemade explosives could have landed this man in jail and a lot others in their graves. While thousands of lives have been saved by Emmerich’s foray into films, many minds have been left devastated by the sheer idiocy of his films. 2012, his latest film, is grandiosely idiotic; it is so preposterously aware of its absurdity that I almost wanted to applaud its progress into the abyss of bad filmmaking. Sort of like Lady Gaga; so kitschy and stupid that sometimes we can’t help but nod our heads to her music. Or perhaps like a T Rajendar YouTube clip that is so out of tune with physics that we obsessively replay it for shits and giggles.

The storyline in 2012 is so loathsomely drab and flimsy that I had to devote full attention to it till the end. I had to soak in every frame and bathe myself in its retarded sense of fatalism. Character development gets a sharp kick in the rear, as well. Firstly, we have Curtis (John Cusack) – a novelist – who has the personality of a soft, rotten fruit. His wife (Amanda Peet) and kids (Alexandre and Philippe) collectively could give Sigmund Freud one hell of a wet dream; so varied is their emotional response to explosions, earthquakes and personal tragedies. For instance, when his daughter sees a devastating earthquake destroy their house, her first reaction is to wonder what happened to her fucking doll. The step dad, played by Thomas McCarthy, makes up for the film’s lack of an African American misnomer. In fact, when he gets killed, his family so does not give a fuck that you almost wonder if he’s a black guy in a horror movie.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is close to being unwatchable as the annoying-as-hell, do-gooder scientist. At times, so unnatural was this character’s investment in matters of the heart and so lackadaisical his commitment towards science, one could have easily mistaken him for impersonating the bastard child of Nelson Mandela and Abdul Kalam. Danny Glover manages to outsuck Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford (and that’s saying something) as the President of the US. Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, that large Russian dude and his mistress are hilariously bad, as well. Woody Harrelson, who plays crazed radio jockey Charlie Frost, gets in a few obvious jokes and thankfully gets killed off before he could reach ‘Randy Quaid in Independence Day’ level of bad.

All said and done, I really wanted to like this film. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy watching the world deteriorate, right?  Yeah the eye-popping visuals got the adrenaline going mildly but everything else about 2012 was so awful that it didn’t matter. By the time the film reached its Utopian finale, I felt exhausted. Felt tired for enduring this shit two hours, dirty for having ever harbored good thoughts about this film and stupid for ever telling Jerry, “dude, we have got to check out 2012 in the theatre”. Like a bored Thai prostitute standing in the street corner, screaming “me so horny” at hairy, overweight tourists with an endless budget for self-indulgence.

Only difference is I won’t get paid for doing this.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

district-9-movie

District 9: Aliens have been at the rear end of the deal with cinema. Films with aliens in them fall prey to either predictability or patriotism, both of which have been known to cause unparalleled damage to its kind. Steven Spielberg’s ET made me want to eat my face inside out. I wanted to chew through my cheekbones and pull my eye sockets out through my nostrils every time the camera zoomed in on the ghastly bugger and everyone else in the room went, “awwwwww so cute”. Independence Day was big dumb mediocre fun, but it had its share of unforgivable crimes – especially, the ‘let’s hug it out, you earthling…you’ climax.

Neil Bloomkamp’s District 9 side-steps such irksome details and then some to deliver a kickass film. The coolest part of District 9 is that it never takes itself too seriously; even in the false finishes that threaten to pull the curtains when you least expect it to. It even avoids the shock shtick that such ambitious directors have been known to fawn over. For instance, like Ebert mentions, despite making it clear that Nigerian prostitutes were doing it with the aliens, director Blomkamp merely makes an awkward joke about it and never bothers grossing us out with unnecessarily graphic imagery.

cine-district-9-review

So the deal is that aliens have landed on Earth two decades earlier and after much diplomacy and brain cells-racking, the government of South Africa has decided to put them all in a “militarized ghetto” – where the only rule is that there are no rules…wait, there are a few rules like the aliens can’t purchase cat food without paying for it and kleptomania is generally frowned upon, but you get the picture. Pretty soon the lack of a civil and a maintainable social order in the ghetto drives the government to forcibly evict all the aliens.

Enter Wikus Van D Merwe (Sharlto Copley). A key player and bootlicker unparalleled in a premier ammunitions corporation – Multi-National United – who has been put in charge of the eviction formalities by his father-in-law. From then on, Wikus’ life becomes spectacularly worse than ever before, with aliens and humans conspiring to either kill him or dash his hopes of getting out of this mess, alive, well and almost human.

district-9-

With an engrossing storyline, a suitable cast (Sharlto is awesome) and tremendous CGI effects, District 9 gets my vote for the ‘flick of the year’. It can’t get any bigger or funner (yes funner) and god bless Nick Blomkamp for that. The only thing dumb about District 9 is that some movie executive in Los Angeles is probably jerking off to the thought of casting Steve Carell in the Hollywood remake. Please fucking don’t.

public_enemies064

Public Enemies: Two years ago, the sheer prospect of Christian Bale and Johnny Depp sharing screen space in a gangster film would have had me stalking YouTube and Daily Motion for every user-made promo video. Lately I have turned sour towards both of them. When the initial euphoria of Dark Knight faded away, I became increasingly cynical of it and especially of Bale’s performance. Much like Gerald Butler’s in 300, Bale’s overdubbed voice as Batman really really pissed me off. It sounded like he burped out Clint Eastwood after seven shots of single malt whiskey. In Public Enemies too, he sounds odd. So very odd that you almost forget that Bale is one of the top five method actors in his country; insert Dustin Hoffman quote (if there’s a method, where’s the acting?). As for Johnny Depp, well…part two and three of the Pirate series have made me rethink the whole ‘who’s my favourite American actor” business. If anything, it was a sign of an actor coming to terms with his own celebrity status.

Back to the film…I felt that Public Enemies showcased these two blokes quite poorly. It wasn’t as bad as Pirates III or Terminator IV, but it still was a pretty terrible way of utilizing them; especially considering how good director Michael Mann can be (Collateral).

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’d probably know the storyline by now…so I’ll close with something you might not know. Elliot Goldenthal’s original music for the film is brilliant and I really think you should go out of the way and buy the soundtrack. Matter of fact, it almost takes away the uneasy feeling that you have watched something mediocre by the time the end credits hit the screen.

bronson

Bronson: Director Nicolas Winding Refn has gone ahead and carved a nice little niche for himself in European pop cinema. His grim debut Bleeder and the Pusher trilogy have given him enough street credo and maturity to craft something as exquisitely brutal as Bronson. As for actor Tom Hardy, I have only seen him in the recent film adaption of Wuthering Heights, in which he plays Heathcliff. In this film, he plays the awesomely moustached and tough-as-nails – Charles Bronson– England’s most infamous prisoner and general pyschopath extraordinaire.

To call this a tribute to the real-life title character would be a bit short sighted since one gets the impression that it was more of a tribute to pulp cinema. The scenes in which Bronson addresses the crowd, dressed as a clown and drenched in existential ennui, are indicative of the theatrics that daftly help the film avoid genre classifications. The ending however made me feel a bit queasy with the melodrama and all, but as a whole – the film worked very nicely.

However once again, folks, life has asked art to sit the fuck down and observe. In 1994, the real Charles “Charlie” Bronson, whilst holding a guard hostage at Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes, demanded an inflatable doll, a helicopter and a cup of tea as ransom. In 1998, he asked one of the Iraqis he had held hostage to hit him “very hard” over the head with a metal tray; when he refused, Bronson slashed his own shoulder six times with a razor blade.

EdWood

Ed Wood: There is something very strangely beautiful about this one. Why, you ask? Johnny Depp stars as the worst film director ever in the history of moving pictures and halfway through decides to start impersonating the bastard child of Michael Jackson and Willy Wonka. Martin Landau plays Bela Lugosi – the actor who was the original Dracula – but with more self-loathing decay. Bill Murray is Bunny Breckinridge – the soon-to-be transvestite perennially getting screwed over by bad luck and worse makeup. Jeffrey Jones is Criswell, the man who can see into the future as long as the TV ratings go up. So that takes care of the strangeness.

As for the beauty, tiny moments of awkward sadness make Tim Burton’s Ed Wood prettier than I had expected it to be. When the character Ed Wood watches Bela Lugosi for the last time, a gloomy ethereal note pierces the scene and threatens to make us feel bad for laughing about them earlier.

Funny thing is in 1980 when this gentle and eccentric man was voted as the worst director of all time, the Carroll Ballard’s tortorously dramatic The Black Stallion won a friggin Special Achievement Award. Probably for making a shitty movie without even an ounce of the dedication that Ed Wood had for his films.

Read Full Post »

will-smith-in-seven-pound-001Seven Pounds: I detested The Air I Breathe for its feeble attempts at feigning intelligence. A lot of film directors feel the need to infuse some sort of pretentious intellectualism or quasi-theatrical drama into their films to give them credibility. But I ask you, since when did we, neanderthals, NOT enjoy stupid films? Remember Independence Day? Big, fun, cool visuals and er… Will Smith. Hell, sometimes even silly dramas find their way into my heart. Case in point, Green Card and Paradise. Gabriele Muccino’s Seven Pounds is a lot like our colleagues, yeah you know, those ones who read a couple of Nietzsche quotes on brainyquotes.com and all of a sudden think of themselves to be connoisseurs of existentialism. “It’s an extraordinary journey of redemption,” scream IMDB junkies. Give me stupidity over pretensions, I mumble.

00092428_The Accidental Tourist: Legend has it that the jury at Academy Awards took time-off from smoking crack in 2005. They put the crack pipes down long enough to nominate William Hurt for best supporting actor for his 15-minute powerhouse performance in Cronenberg’s History Of Violence. He’s one of the most important actors of the Nineties and look no further than Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist to have a peek into Hurt’s virtuosity as a performer. Also starring the ever-fantastic Bill Pullman, Geena Davis and Katheleen Turner, the film revolves around Macon Leary (William Hurt) – a travel writer for corporate travelers, now trying to get his life back on the road after a tragic accident leaves him desperately cynical towards everything furry and warm. Geena Davis, for once, does not suck and does her best “Minnie Driver” impersonation yet. Kathleen Turner and Bill Pullman, well…they couldn’t suck even if they were forced at gunpoint to act in a remake of Casablanca.

2008_changeling_001Changeling: Clint Eastwood would have got the “comeback of the year” award every year since 2000 but the thing is he never went away. In 2003, after nearly three decades of mediocre acting, mediocre directing, spaghetti westerns and Dirty Harrys, Mr Eastwood hit his peak as a director with Mystic River – a riveting drama that boasts of talent such as Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. It won Clint Eastwood two Oscars. In 2004, he made Million Dollar Baby and subsequently became the proud possessor of four more Oscars. His next two films were not as critically acclaimed but nevertheless added to his Oscar loot with four nominations and another gold statuette. Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood are probably going to be nominated for the Oscars this year for Changeling – a film that was seemingly made for that very purpose. Now, now…it’s a neat film with no jarring flaws but once again, a thread of vacant emotions – similar to that which destroyed Million Dollar Baby’s credibility towards the climax – rears its ugly head. Jolie cries so much in this film that after a point, you almost find yourself rooting for the prodigal “son” to turn evil and run his mommy down with a tricycle.

Long story short, “Mom loses son. Son comes back. Son not really ‘real’ son. Mom finds out. Evil policemen have other plans.” Oh well, at least more Oscar worthy than “poor boy meets rich girl, screws over Billy Zane, screws rich girl in a different way, everyone falls of the cruise ship and the most annoying person on-board survives”. You want proof of the old man’s talent as a director? Go watch Bird.

zoe-bellDeath Proof. For my money, the third best Quentin Tarantino film behind Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Released in 2007, Death Proof was Tarantino’s tribute to B-grade action of the Seventies and Eighties. A sleazy, gory and stylish nightmare with an opening sequence so preposterously retro and so elaborate that it makes the discourse on Madonna at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs seem like a passing thought. A fitting tribute to non-kitschy influences of liberal thinking, I guess. What many don’t know is that Death Proof is also a tribute to J. G. Ballard’s superb novel – Crash. And to think director Paul Haggis stole some of the book’s best lines, made a corny movie and won a friggin’ Oscar for it. Eishhhh. Remember Don Cheadle saying, “People would crash into each other just to feel something (pause)…anything”. That was so ripped off from Ballard that it almost immediately ceased to be funny. Hmmm…anyway coming back to Death Proof. It’s fun, mindless and a whole lot of Zoe Bell (as Zoe Bell) beating the shit out of Kurt Russell. It’s almost endearing how earnestly Zoe chases Kurt down and opens a can of whoop ass. Now who do I have to kill to see her kick Michael Douglas’ ass?

Read Full Post »