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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas McCarthy’

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.

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Tyson: I’d bought this thinking it was James Toback’s documentary. It turned out to be director’s Uli Edel straight-to-video take on Mike Tyson’s life. Truth be told, it was lame. Nothing that we haven’t read about on tabloids or stared at on E! and VH1 specials. Minor props to the Paul Winfield for his portrayal of Don King. He wore his Afro like only a king could.

great-buck-howardThe Great Buck Howard: First Charlie Bartnett, now this. Great. Maybe now I’ll listen to Metallica and wallow in abject mediocrity. Now look…there’s nothing wrong with The Great Buck Howard on paper. It’s got a nifty little story somewhere in there about people finding their place in the world. Several minutes of John Malkovichthe mentalist – ranting and raving about his place in pop culture. The dreamy damsel Emily Blunt is in there too, along with a cameo by the King of Mediocre Tom Hanks. However this film somehow just doesn’t cut the Chutney (I friggin hate mustard). It’s one of those independent films with mainstream actors that desperately hopes to appear quaint and quirky. But they end up being hasty and boring. The Great Buck Howard does a few things right though. You can send in your thank-you cards to John Malkovich. First, he almost saved Con Air. Now this. Waah what a man.

synecdoche2Synecdoche, New York: I think Charlie Kaufman possesses that sort of malaise that makes him jump on that line between ingenuity and pretension and scratch the fuck out of it. Synecdoche New York, like many others penned by him, is a remarkable film. Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour) has his sights set on Broadway and he is on the verge of unleashing a brutal masterpiece of candour. He assembles actors together in a warehouse and chucks metaphors at them, both figuratively and almost literally. And there’s his personal life too. A daughter ailing from a mysterious illness, a self-indulgent psychotherapist and caricatures of others. In a nutshell, the one might find the story to be slighty artsy fartsy, but that would be akin to finding plots in Robert Altman’s films to be a bit boring based on how they IMDB describes them. Funny thing is, Roger Ebert praised the hell out of it while The Observer called it the worst movie ever made. Only Kaufman could stir such extremities in opinions.

stationagent-1The Station Agent: I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed Thomas McCarthy’s Station Agent yet. For the past five years, it has been firmly lodged in my top Five Indie Films like ever. Hell, it even replaced Nick Willing’s awesome Photographing Fairies as the perfect afternoon film for me. So, the story is about Finbar McBride, a dwarf who shifts base from a city to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey to live a life of seclusion. In time, he meets Bobby Cannavale, a goofy mobile hotdog vendor and Patricia Clarkson, a divorcee doing little to get over the death of her son. The allure of Station Agent lies in its ability to rise above the obvious, despite keeping it fairly simple. Of course, McBride hates being short. Dam right he gets pissed off with the way people look at him. And sometimes, with the right amount of beer inside, he might even fancy giving this godforsaken life a chance or two.

The word “heartwarming” gets tossed out a lot. It is widely used nowadays to describe any sub-par drama in which the protagonist suffers through an unnecessarily tragic climax and comes out as a better person. Well, I consider Station Agent to be genuinely heartwarming. The best part is that the director doesn’t want you to recognize it; he just wants you listen to gentle crackle and pop noises that your senses make when in contact with something as beautiful and warm as this. Fantastic performances by Peter Dinkage (McBride), the always awesome Olivia Harris (Clarkson) and Joe Oramas (Bobby).

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