October 2010 Archives
After a long life as a cheap horror-movie gimmick, 3-D has experienced a second act as a way to add thrills (and box-office heft) to a big-budget event picture. But as the high-profile side of 3-D descends into political debate (to convert or not to convert?), Hollywood continued to crank out low-budget 3-D schlock like My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Piranha 3-D. Well, we've officially found something lower than 3-D schlock: Jackass 3-D has given us the world's first 3-D crap. Literally.
Clint Eastwood's low-key filmmaking style may not be for everybody, but with an engaging story, he can (and often does) create masterpieces. Unfortunately, none of the three stories in Hereafter are engaging, or believable, or even particularly original, so when they clumsily come together in the final act, it's like watching a slow-motion tidal wave full of debris crashing onto the beach, and pulling away to leave... nothing, really. Even that sounds more exciting that what actually happens in the movie.
Conviction is the kind of movie that's based on a true story, but if it weren't, you'd call it out for being ridiculously implausible. That's not to say it's some mind-blowing, thrilling piece of cinema, however. That just to say that true story or not, it still falls into every trap an "inspirational" movie can possibly fall into, and it doesn't do much else.
Old people are hilarious, for a variety of reasons. They get bored easily. They like things that are out of style. They can't do things for themselves anymore. They place less value on human life. And they will kill you without a moment's consideration. At least, these are the things that I've learned about them from the movies, which are always pulling them out of retirement for one last job, be it a bank heist or an art heist or one last case or to avenge some cut-up prostitute in the Wild West. And while RED is no Unforgiven -- the characters in the movies similarly seek no forgiveness, nor do they seem to possess any -- it is endlessly entertaining, and features some of the most hyper-violent senior citizens you will find outside of Japanese animation.
One of the year's biggest hits and one of its biggest flops are both hitting DVD on the same day. Thanks, Galileo's law of falling bodies!
Have you ever watched a sports underdog movie and been satisfied by the formula, but just thought to yourself "If only these characters were ridiculous Masshole caricatures, this movie would have been so much more special and enjoyable"? Then you and Fighter director David O. Russell have that in common. Something else you two have in common? You were both right.
Given that this movie stars Kick-Ass's Aaron Johnson, is directed by a conceptual artist and is about one of the biggest rock icons in the world, you'd think Nowhere Boy would be a much more interesting film than it is. Not that I was expecting bloody brawls, creative editing or overtly shocking behavior, but this portrait of John Lennon as a young man is mostly a tame period piece about a boy in 1950s England who wants to be Elvis Presley. At no point do we get the impression that Lennon is particularly special at all -- just lucky and very, very determined. And while his upbringing was certainly nontraditional, it's hardly as shocking or controversial as the movie seems to want us to think it is.
As far as shamelessly repetitive and unimaginative genres go, you can do worse than the "Childless-Urbanite-Inherits-a-Baby" one. Sometimes they're actually kind of funny, and even when they're not, there are far fewer of them than there are bad rom-coms and bad horror movies (clearly the two most shamelessly repetitive and unimaginative genres in existence) so you have less of a chance to accrue a white-hot hatred of them. Literally the bare minimum anyone asks for with these things is that you shake up the formula a little bit and do more legitimate screenwriting than taking the Raising Helen script and changing the character's names and locations and calling it a new movie. But, unfortunately, Life as We Know It didn't care to put in that much effort.
As an unabashed Aaron Sorkin apologist, watching The Social Network was particularly enjoyable, not just because it's a mesmerizing and endlessly entertaining movie, but because the thing oozed Sorkin's influence, from its dialogue to its characterizations to its poultry sight gags. But just how much of a Sorkin amalgamation is the movie's depiction of Mark Zuckerberg? I've drawn some comparisons to Sorkin's previous characters to shed some light on the issue. Hey, beats beating the racist, sexist, fact-checking dead horse the Internet's been flogging all week, right?
Can a couple of beautiful, award-worthy animated features outshine this week's collection of gut-churning horror flicks? God, I hope so.