Okay, after my epic Prometheus review I figured I should keep the next few short and sweet. Here goes.
Here’s a documentary about the most influential (not to mention the first) reggae singer of all time. It’s an interesting film but, sadly, not all that surprising. As far as famous musicians go Bob Marley’s rise to fame is pretty formulaic. Humble beginnings, sketchy past, fame has a corrupting effect yada yada yada. Yes, he’s an amazing artist and yes there’s some fascinating stuff here but there’s not enough revelations to justify a two and a half hour running time. It’s a noble effort but over all it feels unnecessary.
Now here’s something pretty cool.
Picture it, Victorian England. A time when most Doctors thought Soap was just a fad. Sadly those same doctors knew about the same amount about women as they did about hygiene, resulting in scores of unsatisfied females being misdiagnosed with an affliction known as “Hysteria” which covered just about everything from sexual frustration to talking back to their husbands. The primary treatment became a doctor administered massage. Yes, that kind of massage.
But really this clever little English dramedy is about hypocrisy, ignorance, and the sad, comical, and sometimes tragic lengths that society will go to when it refuses to see the forest for the trees. Women were unsatisfied and men couldn’t fathom why so it had to be a disease. Then they treated the disease without ever questioning if there was more to it than that. On the plus side this led to the invention of the vibrator (and we can all be thankful for that) but it also led to some truly horrific surgical techniques such as female castration.
Now it should be said that this movie takes a lighthearted approach to the subject matter but it contains just enough of the dark side to give the story an importance. This is a fun, educational, and moving film that manages to turn the origin of the world’s most popular sex toy into a layered tale about the battle of the sexes. This is a real gem.
Fucking Awesome. Seriously. Just go see it okay?
I’m usually pretty hard on Canadian movies, mostly because as a Canadian I think we give a pass to our own more than we should, but I gotta say that watching Samuel L. Jackson paying for things in Canadian money and going into stores with signs in the front that read “We pay the HST” just put a smile on my face.
The movie is a thriller and as a thriller it doesn’t quite work. But for every turn or plot twist that feels tacked on there’s another that genuinely blindsides you. Plus, like I said, it’s got Samuel L. Jackson in it and the man is incapable of phoning it in. And while this is clearly not his best film it’s one that was obviously important to him and it shows. A decent effort, but probably for the hardcore Sam fans only.
When movies strive to be “So bad they’re good” they walk a tightrope. If they keep their balance then the audience will be thinking to themselves “I can’t believe I’m enjoying this” but if they lose their footing then “I can’t believe I’m enjoying this” turns into “I can’t believe I’m watching this.” real quick. Last years Piranha 3D manages to keep its balance for the majority of the film’s duration and even toss in some genuine scares. While you’d be hard pressed to call this sequel scary I was genuinely surprised by how much fun I had.
I think the key was that the cast actually got into the spirit of things and really worked to sell the premise. I know it’s easy to dismiss slasher movies as acting wastelands but as far as I’m concerned having to say a line like “Josh cut off his penis because of something that came out of my vagina” and make it sound plausible is not an easy task. Thankfully these kids were up to it.
The cheese factor gets turned up a little too much on occasion (David Hasselhoff) but they make up for it with some cool throwbacks to the last film (Ving Rhames) and while its low-budget definitely shows (especially during the film’s climax) over all I’m pretty impressed with what everyone did with not much money and precious little time. A decent little ditty for the slasher movie set.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s most wanted(The author takes a hard inhale)
So apparently there’s some animals that used to live in the New York Zoo and they want to go back so they get some penguins to get some money or something and they get from Africa to Monte Carlo with literally no effort whatsoever but getting from Monte Carlo to New York is like the single hardest thing in the history of time and there’s a french hunter girl and there’s a circus and there’s a lot of sequences set to Katy Perry’s “Firework” and nothing makes sense and the audience I was with liked it but I just wanted to cut myself repeatedly in the hopes of stimulating the emotions that this uninspired distraction was obviously designed to deaden.
This movie was totally devoid of any passion or sense of urgency or…well…anything. It’s just a boring sequel made because it’s existence meant more money for its producers than its lack of existence. I guess I can understand the motive but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.
Rock of Ages
So…I could go off on how much promise this film had and how it failed to fulfil that promise or how much it just felt like an extended trailer for itself but, as this is a round up, I only have so much time. Thus I have made the decision to concentrate on one element of this movie that I felt needed to be addressed directly.
A few years back, after the release of The Watchmen, a critic decided to call a moratorium on the use of the Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” in film as it had been used so often it had lost all impact. Well, I think it’s time to add another song to the “Don’t play” list.
“Don’t stop believing”, it’s time to pack it in.
Look, I like Journey just as much as the next guy but what made “don’t stop believing” work was that perfect mix of cheese, genuine emotion, and obscurity. Well it’s not obscure anymore thanks to Monster, the Sopranos and Glee and it’s become so beloved that it can no longer be considered cheesy. Now it’s just a song that gets played WAY too much. The impact is gone, thus, putting it at the penultimate moment in a film is a great way to stall momentum. So filmmakers? Let’s take a few years off of “Journey” and perhaps take the time to find a different eighties song that everyone forgot how much they loved. You may find the experience more rewarding than you expected.
Where do we go now?
Though it may be Lebanese, this films premise seems remarkably British.
Where do we go now? tells the tale of a small village in Lebanon that is populated by both Christians and Muslims. Everyone gets along just fine until someone finally gets the village’s one TV working and they discover that, unbenounced to them, they are supposed to hate each other. Upon this discovery the men become violent which leads the women to come up with increasingly odd ways to bring the towns people back together, up to and including bringing in a group of Russian exotic dancers.
Like I said at the top of this review, on the surface this seems like your typical heart-warming english movie (group of middle-aged women must accomplish something extraordinary so they use the most comic possibility they can find) but there’s a weight to this one that most Britspirational (TM) films have been lacking over the past few years. It’s like when you see an Asian action movie that’s ripping off the U.S. but doing it better. Also, there’s a twist at the end that is so damned perfect I’m still kind of in awe. Even if you’re not into foreign films seek this one out, it’ll surprise you.
I’m almost positive that this film is exactly what legendary Canadian director David Cronenberg was trying to make. Does that make it good? No it really doesn’t. But the fact that he was successful should count for something.
Cosmopolis takes place in either the near future or in a twisted version of the present where a top investor (played by Robert Pattinson) has become so disenfranchised by the money that he creates/destroys that he is losing touch with reality. Um…that’s kind of it. There’s other stuff that happens but mostly it’s just this douche bag riding around in his impossibly high-tech limo having meetings with people who either tell him he’s losing his mind or tell him everyone else is.
The film’s dialogue is incredibly stylized, sort of like everyone’s doing a monologue about the dangers and benefits of excess but they just happen to be sharing that monologue with other characters. Sometimes this style makes the movie quite compelling, others it makes it totally unwatchable, but throughout there’s always a feeling that at least something cool is going on. It doesn’t hurt that the film’s last scene contains Paul Giamatti as a down and out investor and he manages to infuse the awkward text with a passion that no one else in the film ever comes close to (though it would have been nice if there’d been a lead up to the scene as opposed to it happening randomly).
I’m really torn on this one. I’m glad it exists, but I’m not ever going to watch it again. I think that’s a recommendation although it’s a hell of a qualified one. See this film if you want to watch a great artist fail with flair.
There. That works.
Okay, that covers this week. Join me soon for Richard Linklater’s Bernie, Adam Sandler’s That’s my Boy, plus a slew of new summer blockbusters.