Monday, July 8, 2013

Recent Viewings: 7/8/13.

They're...they're making MORE of them! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Starring: Alexandra Daddario; Dan Yeager; Trey Songz; Scott Eastwood; Tania Raymonde; Shaun Sipos; Keram Malicki-Sánchez; James MacDonald; Thom Barry; Paul Rae.
Directed by: John Luessenhop.
Colour/92 Minutes/R

Here's a film that tries so hard to be a nice fan-service sequel/reboot, and fails horribly. The TCM remake from a few years ago already did a decent job, and they should have left it at that (they didn't of course, and gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning in 2006). But that won't do for the greedy fucks behind this abortion. Squeeze more blood out of the franchise! We've got to raise money to pay Tobe Hooper's mortgage! Anachronisms and continuity errors are not uncommon in low and mid-budget horror films, but rarely do they slap you in the face like they do here. Then there's the twist in the final act of this film that REALLY slaps you in the face. I won't quite spoil it, but I mean, this film is attempting to be the real Texas Chain Saw Massacre sequel, right? But here they think they can do it by destroying everything that made the original what it was. I don't give a fuck how good your Leatherface is (and I'll give respect there: Dan Yeager does a great job), if you turn him into a misunderstood anti-hero, your film has fucking failed. Right out of the gate, you've failed. FAILED. Get it? That's not a sequel. That's a revisionist shit in the sink. Tobe Hopper's own sequel was revisionist to a degree, and while it's loads better than this, it failed. So go ahead, slap yourself again. Then slap yourself in the face hard for having watched this shit in the first place. Do it again, give it another slap. There, you feel better, right? Haven't watched it yet? Don't. Just get right with the face-slapping. Why? Because this film actually made some money, and there are talks of future sequels. Avoid. Abort.

Gangster Squad (2013)
Starring: Josh Brolin; Ryan Gosling; Sean Penn; Emma Stone; Nick Nolte; Giovanni Ribisi; Mireille Enos; Michael Peña; Robert Patrick.
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer.
Colour/113 Minutes/R

Much like Michael Mann's Public Enemies (2009), I really, really wanted to like it, but by the end of the film it turned into a big budget mess, full of shoot-outs, and leaning on noir cliches to keep itself standing, instead of characters and a plot I should give a damn about. While based somewhat on real people and events, this film is mostly nonsense, rewritten as a big budget all-star ensemble, that falls flat on it's face. Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen is somewhere on another planet, having already chewed all available scenery on Earth. He's at his worst De Niro riffing here. Watch L.A. Confidential or Mulholland Falls instead. I will say this, Josh Brolin could play a young Nick Nolte or Lee Marvin if the role ever came up. He does "The Sons of Lee Marvin" proud. Don't bother renting this however.

Hellraiser Revelations (2011)
Starring: Stephan Smith Collins; Fred Tatasciore; Steven Brand; Nick Eversman; Tracey Fairaway; Sebastien Roberts; Devon Sorvari; Sanny Van Heteren; Daniel Buran.
Directed by: Víctor García.
Colour/75 Minutes/R

This film was apparently made so the rights could be held until the remake is finished, and I guess it shows (even though it's probably one of the better sequels in the franchise's direct-to-video lifespan). Being very low budget, it shoe-horns in some very badly plotted, and weakly presented, found footage stuff in the beginning before playing out as one might suspect: people you don't like being killed by cenobites. I'll say this for it: the makeup effects are great and the film is very true to the very first Hellraiser film. The acting is acceptable, and the new guy playing Pinhead does okay with what limited writing he's given. Some who believe in the concept of hell say that it's repetition. This film's biggest sin other than being a legal stop-gap for Dimension Films, as they get their shit together, is how redundant the entire thing is. Smell something burning? Avoid. Abort.

Cloud Atlas (2012)
Starring: Tom Hanks; Halle Berry; Jim Broadbent; Hugo Weaving; Jim Sturgess; Doona Bae; Ben Whishaw; Keith David; James D'Arcy; Xun Zhou.
Directed by: Tom Tykwer; Andy Wachowski; Lana Wachowski.
Colour/172 Minutes/R

This was six okay films in one good film. An often inventive and visually impressive epic, and thankfully not a film with a lot of pretentious, sappy bullshit, or a need to spell out the plot and themes for the viewer. If you fancy it, it's a film that demands several viewings, even if it is long as hell, but I didn't personally find it boring or tedious. Karma, reincarnation, past events effecting the present and future, and no preachy religious bullshit, makes for an interesting film. Shame about the horrible make-up jobs however. Rent it.

Jack Reacher (2012)
Starring: Tom Cruise; Rosamund Pike; Richard Jenkins; David Oyelowo; Werner Herzog; Jai Courtney; Vladimir Sizov; Joseph Sikora; Michael Raymond-James; Alexia Fast; Josh Helman; Robert Duvall.
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie.
Colour/130 Minutes/PG-13

Not the horrible raping of the great Lee Child series of books I thought it was going to be, and that's saying something considering Tom Cruise is playing a character whom in the novels is six and a half feet tall and two hundred and fifty pounds. Somehow that horse-faced little Scientologist fuck won me over. I guess it helps when you have Werner Herzog playing the main bad guy. Don't get me wrong: not a great movie, but it's a perfectly acceptable action thriller, with good acting, good pacing, a well-adapted script, and I'd welcome another go with Cruise as Reacher (I can't believe I'm saying that, but there it is). Rent it.

Django Unchained (2012)
Starring: Jamie Foxx; Christoph Waltz; Leonardo DiCaprio; Kerry Washington; Samuel L. Jackson; Walton Goggins.
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino.
Colour/165 Minutes/R

Not one of Quentin Tarantino's best, but one of his braver films as far as pushing boundaries. Has there ever been a harsher film about slavery as far as graphic displays of violence? Not likely. At least not outside of exploitation films like Russ Meyer's Black Snake (1973). Tarantino pushed the comedy and use of modern music a bit too much for my taste, but fuck are the performances commanding. Samuel L. Jackson's best role, hands down. Leonardo DiCaprio's best role hands down. Jackson in particular is the ultimate Uncle Tom. A privileged racist black who treats other blacks like the whites do. At times DiCaprio's repulsive and dumb plantation owner, Calvin Candie, regards Jackson as an equal, even if he doesn't quite realize it, and Jackson's character is pure evil, because he plays Candie like a piano. This film is more than worthy to carry the name "Django". Coming out of it, I want to see a Dr. King Schultz movie. I think Jamie Fox did a fine job in an underwritten role, but Waltz was really the central character. If it wasn't for him the story would never have happened. Django's story of looking for his lost love, which moves Schultz deeply due to connections to the "Brynhildr" legend, sets the second half of the plot into motion. I suppose I'm not surprised however, as the film itself plays more like some European myth than it does a western, where the wise old wizard (really, this is what Schultz is) is the more interesting character. The over-the-top violence dished out by Django and Schultz didn't bother me, as it's often played for laughs and tension relief, and it was a good contrast to the really horrible stuff involving the treatment of the slaves. Much like in Inglourious Basterds, where the Nazis were gunned down in the theatre, it's a little cathartic alternate history from Tarantino. The ending where Django and Broomhilda celebrate was terribly off-note, however. On one level Jackson's Stephen is a parody of those rather outdated and silly black stereotypes from classic films, and for Steven it's a calculated act he puts on to fool everyone, especially Candie, who is a half-wit, but a powerful puppet for Stephen to play. Great rental.

Bernie (2011)
Starring: Jack Black; Shirley MacLaine; Matthew McConaughey; Brady Coleman; Richard Robichaux; Rick Dial; Brandon Smith; Larry Jack Dotson.
Directed by: Richard Linklater.
Colour/104 Minutes/PG-13

Effective mix of black comedy and pseudo-doc style, like This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, etc, about a real-life killer who was so popular in his town that the local population sided with him after he killed his 80-something companion, who was a hated, mean old witch of a widower. Jack Black is pretty great as the titular killer. Matthew McConaughey is also awesome as the gobsmacked District Attorney, who can't believe the reactions of the locals once Bernie's crime is revealed. With this and Killer Joe, I think McConaughey might be back on track. Rent it.

Killing Them Softly (2012)
Starring: Brad Pitt; Scoot McNairy; Ben Mendelsohn; James Gandolfini; Richard Jenkins; Vincent Curatola; Ray Liotta.
Directed by: Andrew Dominik.
Colour/97 Minutes/R

Boring me effectively to the point where I fell asleep and had to restart the film. Brad Pitt as a too-cool-for-school mafia hit man who is tasked with finding out who held up a mafia card game. (The now late) James Gandolfini is the other hit man Pitt brings in, and has to babysit, due to his alcoholism and love of whores. Some of the conversations between the characters are good, but fuck does this movie heap on mob movie cliche after cliche. I mean, even Ray Liotta is here, doing the same mafia scumbag he usually plays in his sleep. Whomever wrote this spent too much time trying to copy the Quentin Tarantino style, without coming even close to understanding what makes his stuff jump off the screen and work. Not worthy.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)
Starring: Adelaide Clemens; Kit Harington; Carrie-Anne Moss; Sean Bean; Radha Mitchell; Malcolm McDowell; Martin Donovan; Deborah Kara Unger; Roberto Campanella.
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett.
Colour/94 Minutes/R

The revelation? Movies with "revelation(s)" in the title often suck. 3D sucks. Middle-of-the-road ghost films with wonky CGI suck. Unless you play the video games, you'll most likely be very confused. And even if you do play, there's no telling if it will help you much as far as the plot is concerned. Okay, that's actually "revelations" isn't it? That can be the sixth film in the series, perhaps. This film manages to retain the same impressive visuals of the first film, somehow, but the story is just as much arse biscuits. It's all visual eye-candy and no real backbone or interesting characters. Just like the Resident Evil films. Not worthy.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Starring: Ian McKellen; Martin Freeman; Richard Armitage; Ken Stott; Graham McTavish; William Kircher; James Nesbitt; Stephen Hunter; Dean O'Gorman.
Directed: Peter Jackson.
Colour/169 Minutes/PG-13

I can only take so much sustained critique on the lives of rural Englishmen with an abundance of old myths, mixed with thinly veiled Christian themes, before I have to stop for a bit. And what's with rabbits pulling a sled and those two mountains getting up and fighting each other? Was that in the book? I can't remember, but it was fucking lame. This movie got a bit too Harry Potterish. I WANT ORC BLOOD! At one point Bilbo is hugging the head dwarf, Gandalf has this sort of extremely gay look in his eye, and I'm pretty sure at any minute, Frodo is going to show up and Sam is going to brick in his mouth (thank you Kevin Smith). What the hell is this movie? It was fun at times, but there's far too much kiddie stuff going on. Guess that's what you get when you base a movie off a children's book, but come on. Got to say, I do really like the LotR films, even more than the books. And I liked this film, but it is a bit too much at times. Some of the action stuff was way overboard, and there were too many "feel good" moments. We get it, they are males and they are bonding, do stop hugging for a second and kill those fucking orcs already. Rent on a rainy day.

Skyfall (2012)
Starring: Daniel Craig; Judi Dench; Javier Bardem; Ralph Fiennes; Naomie Harris; Bérénice Marlohe; Albert Finney; Ben Whishaw; Rory Kinnear.
Directed by: Sam Mendes.
Colour/143 minutes/PG-13

Well, for me Craig is the closest they've ever been to having a perfect adaptation of Bond on the big screen. They finally get the true character from the original stories in these films. He's not a superhuman, flawless, quipping, pretty boy. Bond is a thug; a highly-skilled, highly-trained grunt, and a ruthless killer. Yeah, he's charming, he's smart, but he's also flawed. He can be beaten. He can be hurt. He often reaches beyond his limits and fails. This latest film mixes the more realistic approach of the previous two films and merges it with the classic movie formula, without turning him back into a bad comic book character. Here he's getting older, he's not as sharp as he used to be, and now he's got to be smarter and tougher to win. Javier Bardem adds another great villain to his resume and to Bond's mythos. Judi Dench bows out as M with dignity. It's a bit of a shame that they needed two films to realize they needed some more classic elements in their reboot to make it really work, but fuck it. The series is on track, in my opinion. I love how this story went from starting out big, to slowly getting smaller and more personal, and it really went deep into Bond as a character instead of a 2D action hero. I know some people don't want that from Bond, and that's fine, but I'm totally in to this Bond series. Worthy rental.


Grimm said...

I totally agree with you about Evil Dead. I think that if it wasn't a remake it'd get praised, because even if opinionated douches don't want to admit it, it's a true horror film. And we haven't had a film like that in a while.

Saw you on the HBA and figured I'd pop in and check out your page. I just followed you.

If you wanna chat more horror, swing by my page.

Lee said...

Cheers, thanks for the comment. I'll be sure to check your stuff out!