August 2008 Archives
If you're lucky enough to live in New York, you can see Sukiyaki Western Django right away. If you live anywhere else in the country, you'll have to wait awhile. But if you're a fan of acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike, or of westerns, it will probably be worth the wait. If it's strange to see "Takashi Miike" and "western" in the same sentence, it probably won't be for long. Sukiyaki is his reinvention of the genre. The trailer has Quentin Tarantino praising the film (and narrating it), which can be seen as either a bonus or a distraction. The movie itself looks like a bloody, action-packed, Japanese western (no; it's not an oxymoron, thanks to Miike). There are good guys and bad guys (reds and whites), lust for the sexy temptress, greed, and... automatic weapons? I guess when they said they were reinventing the western, they really meant it. It looks exciting and bloody and filled with callbacks to more traditional spaghetti westerns -- everything a film geek could ever ask for.
I'm immediately skeptical of any movie whose own website describes it as an "outrageous comedy." Outrageous, after all, is usually another word for "obnoxious." Or "terrible." >College, which follows in the footsteps of such "classics" as American Pie and Old School, is no exception. This movie might as well be called Yet Another Road Trip, because here's what it's about: A few high school nerds go to college with the slimiest of their friends to experience all of the joys of "the college visit." But by "college visit," this movie means to say, "the wildest, most messed up, humiliating weekend of their lives."
The first thing I noticed about Babylon A.D. is how it's trying to capitalize on the buzz and subsequent success of The Dark Knight with that poster. You know the one: Slightly slanted Vin Diesel walks through the dark streets of New York. Sort of looks like a certain poster for The Dark Knight with a slanty Joker standing menacingly in the dark streets of Gotham (a.k.a. New York). So, yeah, nice try Babylon A.D., but Vin Diesel is no Heath Ledger, and your movie is definitely no Dark Knight. Don't believe me? Try watching the trailer without laughing. Said trailer tries its damndest to be menancing but ends up a combination of embarrassingly funny and nausea-inducing (and not just because of the way-too-fast-moving action sequences that mean nothing in the trailer's context).
Reviews By People Who've Actually Seen It:
Reviews By People Who've Actually Seen It:
You might wonder what a movie called Hamlet 2 could possibly be about. After all, I don't think Shakespeare wrote a sequel to the play, in which virtually every major character ended up dead. Or did he? (For the record: He did not.) So, it must be something else. Horrendously, the movie's tagline appears to be, "One high school drama teacher is about to make a big number 2." Which at least explains this is not about any sort of actual sequel to Hamlet. But it also makes me wish that Shakespeare were not in the public domain, so that people couldn't use his plays at any disturbing whim. Because that tagline? Ew. The movie is so offensive, apparently, that there is a restricted trailer requiring age verification. If the age verification won't work for you (it didn't for me), you can see the red-band trailer elsewhere, if you're so inclined. It's really not worth it unless you have a thing for herpes jokes, teachers accidentally hitting students in the head with a garbage can and teachers being roofied.
The House Bunny is nothing if not ambitious. Yes, you read that right! Upon watching the trailer, I noticed that it seems to be exploiting not one but two clichéd chick-flick premises we've seen a hundred million times. Premise one: cute, dumb-seeming blonde chick proves she's more than just a hot bod and a pretty face (what up, Legally Blonde?). Premise two: nerdy girl -- in this case, girls -- gets super-dooper makeover and turns into a sexy biatch, but learns that the boy she's been sweating loved her for her all along (nice to see you, Princess Diaries!). Those two hideously over-done plots merge when Shelly (Anna Farris) gets kicked out of the Playboy Mansion where she's been living, because at age 27, she's past her hottie expiration date. She finds herself looking for a job and a place to live, and decides that duh, the obvious solution to her woes is to become a den mother for a sorority house full of nerdy girls. (I have a bone to pick here -- in the universe of movie clichés, when have we ever seen a sorority house full of geeks? Movie sororities are populated exclusively by shallow, gum-snapping, highlights-possessing, designer label whores, thank you very much. Jeez Louise!)
What is Death Race? It's a race with no rules, that's what! Joan Allen (who I can't believe agreed to be in this, but I love it) is an evil prison lord who forces her inmates to race each other in death-proofed muscle cars with all kinds of guns and fire throwers mounted on the sides. If you survive the race, you get your freedom. If you don't survive the race, you cease to be alive. This is a refreshing departure from reality's prison system, which tends to keep the guns and fire throwers away from the prisoners, who generally outnumber the guards 100-1. I would wager this is the biggest problem in our current prisons. I say, give 'em some guns and muscle cars. It might help their self-esteem. I know it would help mine. Clearly, this film is a harsh critique of our penal system.
If you watch the trailer for the Frenchie thriller A Girl Cut In Two waiting for a Saw-like denouement that's a literal interpretation of the title, you will be waiting a long time. Sadly (for some I imagine), there is no dismemberment to be seen. To make up for it, we've been supplied with every single cliché you can think of when you imagine "French movie" -- a hot young French chick in the lead role (in this case Ludivine Sagnier), a love triangle that emphasizes (for those of us who are retarded) just how evolved and non-Puritanical those French are when it comes to sexual mores, some pervy subtitled dialogue and the familiar swell of opera music which is the universal signifier that something really dramatic is going to happen!
I think George Lucas is teaching kids the wrong lesson. No, not that generic dialogue and re-hashed ideas constitute great art -- that war lasts forever. Seriously, how long have the Clone Wars been going on? There have been two movies about the war, and two previous cartoon mini-series, and now this new movie is going to kick off a reported 100-episode cartoon series. Did M*A*S*H even last that long? Maybe it's a product of the times we live in, where our current war has lasted through five television seasons, but that seems a bit excessive. I mean, the war only lasts from 22 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) to 19 BBY, so that's what, three years? Is a Star Wars year the same as an Earth year? I'm pretty sure it is.
Please tell me this movie is not as cheesy as descriptions on its website and elsewhere make it sound. With phrases such as "the unexpected wonders of the everyday" and "cannot escape the forces of hope" make me think I would rather stick a spork in my eye than watch it. And then throw in the fact that it stars Luke Wilson, who is definitely the least talented Wilson brother and possibly the most boring working actor (one exception: I loved him in The Royal Tenenbaums), and I will be fleeing the vicinity of any theater where this might be playing.
We open with an overhead shot of what appears to be a scene straight out of Apocalypse Now, complete with Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" playing in the background as helicopters crash and grenades explode. At first glance it looks like we're in for a real, live war movie. But of course, we're not. Because this film has Ben Stiller and Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. So, duh, it is clearly a parody. Each one of them plays an archetypal actorly type -- Stiller (and his talking marmot-enrobed pecs) is the action dude; RDJ, whom we discover is a white actor who undergoes a controversial procedure so that he can play a black guy, is the pretentious "actor's actor"; and Black is the obnoxious, attention-craving comedian.
With a title that sounds so similar to Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket, the wine dramedy Bottle Shock already sets my expectations pretty high. A quick Google search tells me that bottle shock (or bottle sickness) is a condition caused by too much oxygen in the wine, and can result in a one-dimensional flavor profile. I don't know about one-dimensional, but I have to say that this movie is already making me a little sick, for several reasons.