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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Burton’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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