Free Friday Film: Lady Terminator
I missed ten to fifteen minutes of Lady Terminator – it probably featured a character named Tania Wilson (Barbara Anne Constable) speaking as her natural self dying in San Diego, but apparently, that isn’t important. So instead, I’ll start when me and this movie crossed paths.
A beautiful woman in her birthday suit with the face and body of Tania Wilson emerges, perfect posture and all, out of the Pacific Ocean into a city that we’ll assume is Jakarta, Indonesia. Her body emasculates men mid-coitus, and I’m being cryptic with those words because I already get enough creepy Google searches. And somewhere along the way, à la Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator, her naked self gets a leather jacket and shoots up people. Whatever she is – it turns out that Tania is possessed by the evil Queen of the South Sea – she needs to die, and that’s the job of some Aryan American man who relocated to Jakarta because his wife died? While he’s recovering from widower issues he finds a love interest, a TV personality/singer named Erica who is descended from the Queen’s 100th husband (how does she find the time?) and thus, the Queen’s target.
This could also be the last – and best – movie to use post-production dubbing, giving among many things, the Queen this alto that couldn’t have been Constable’s real voice and adds to her inhumanly slutty character.
This is a movie about tacky 80’s hair and ill-fitting outfits of the same decade. Who are these white people who found themselves acting in some C- movie in Southeast Asia? Did they piss off the CAA? They look to beautiful to be drifters. Constable is also responsible for the movie’s make-up department which either is good enough for a movie like this or they gave her credit for bringing her own lipstick to work. Either way, most of these people never acted again. And whatever their stories before, during or after Lady Terminator is golden material for some ‘Behind the Movies’ feature, the pieces of which should be scattered on the internets somewhere.
Amanda Seyfried and “Gone”
I wanted to start out with how after watching War Horse, I had many choices that night (a good movie or a movie I worked in) but instead I chose to see Gone, because I’m good at decisions for which I don’t have to pay. That I highly disliked Amanda Seyfried because she, sober, can only get roles that Lindsay Lohan would when she’s constantly intoxicated and that I miss Lohan and I’m glad that she’s back. That how Seyfried obtusely chooses movies so terrible that Kristen Stewart selling her soul seems dignified in comparison. Or how she talks, in interviews, the way an intoxicated person would when you’re sober. The movie itself isn’t bad, but it is a hot mess.
In Gone Seyfried’s character Jill starts out just on the edge of normalcy, suspicious walks to Portland’s Forest Park and all, until her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) is nowhere to be found, not leaving a note nor without a change of outside clothes. She reports this incident as a missing persons case to the police like Det. Pete Hood (Wes Bentley) who hears this news while clouded by the knowledge that she’s also an ex-kidnap victim two years ago and believes that her abductor has been taking the other young women who are missing in Portland and is out to kill her because she was the one who got away. She has also been diagnosed and mentally institutionalized for a year before her sister has taken her home.
Her police report is a crucial scene, at first revealing the details of what her memory says what has happened between the last time she has seen Molly – which is before she left for her night shift at the diner (I guess that despite her mental state she has to take what she can get, or that this could have been her job when she was ‘normal’) – and the present. She talks meticulously, like a paranoiac who remembers every detail for when something bad happens to her or to her only family.
One of the movie’s contrivances is that the police is hell-bent on ignoring her at the price of her life and her sister’s. They show their doubts, revealing other cases when ‘responsible’ women become ‘wild,’ and that’s when Seyfried stops sustaining her arc and starts yelling uncontrollably at them. Maybe she needed a better director to guide her to when she’s supposed to be belligerent or calm. But whatever she does for the rest of the movie – lying to her neighbors or ‘interview subjects,’ pretending to a couple of twelve-year olds that she can get them backstage passes to a Justin Bieber concert, toting a gun and finding Molly and the killer herself – will be marred by how she behaves during her worst. It’s too early for her ‘crazy’ scene either way, which is also the fault of the structure of the screenplay.
But the script, between car chases, isn’t that bad, portraying the vernacular of these characters in their private lives. Molly tells Jill that they should get fat together. A police officer tells his female partner that ‘when a man hits a woman a second time, she’s an accomplice.’ A skateboarder tells Jill that his girlfriend thinks that another man – sorry if you had to follow all of that – has ‘rape-y’ eyes. We hear the way women talk to each other, men talk to women about other women and women telling what they really think of men. It’s the whispered prejudices pasted into two hours or less of a movie, along with its leading actress who tries her best and the Craigslist-like meeting she dives into in the end, that are this movie’s saving graces. 2.5/5
Ghost Rider 2: The Spirit of Vengeance
Ugh, why do I bother? Neveldine-Taylor’s Ghost Rider 2: The Spirit of Vengeance recounts the back story of the comic book because no one bothered to watch the first Ghost Rider movie. This second installment begins in ‘Eastern Europe’ just in case the powers that be who birthed this movie thought that their audience was stupid enough to use their phones to look up where Romania was in the map. Think about that while they set the ending in a specific place in Turkey, which is apparently the furthest place from heaven. Like what did Turkey ever do to deserve that? It’s a movie of locales, stopping by an American diner in between the kinetic 3D highlighting the majestic rock formations and structures of Europe and ‘Europe.’ If you count Turkey as part of the European continent and union but anyway….
And speaking of 3D, there’s some nice fetishistic shoe and sequins closeups that are nice and all. Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze goes crazy only and disappointingly once as he gets a deal from a French rogue priest (Idris Elba, with a questionable accent) to rescue a boy from being anointed as the Devil’s (Ciaran Hinds) son. Blaze and a younger woman, who is the child’s mother, go from point a to point b to carry out this mission and Blaze doesn’t even hit on her. Neveldine-Taylor combines biker Gothic pathos with infantile subculture humour but we just really want the campy version of the latter and we don’t get enough of that. In essence, we’re talking about the first boring Nicholas Cage movie, which is a shame. Anthony Head of Buffy fame cameos as a monk who dies way too soon. 1/5
Bad Movie: Moon Point
For the opening sequences of this Canadian movie, we have to set our attention to the Strozkas, a loathsome suburban family, and their black sheep, Darryl (Nick McKinlay). There’s tension between the two camps that could easily be solved by better people skills or better writing.
For example, the Strozkas don’t have to verbally pounce on Darryl – the writer’s pass this off as comedy, by the way – or make fun of him for not having a driver’s license like Margaret Thatcher would. They could, instead use nepotism to get him a job so that he won’t stand out within the family or society.
Likewise, if Darryl didn’t compare employed people to Hitler, because that comparison hasn’t been used before, or if he didn’t have delusions about his childhood sweetheart still loving him, maybe I wouldn’t hate him as a main character so much. Isn’t he tired of being a loser?
Darryl’s old flame happens to be shooting a movie at the titular Moon Point, the same title Sean Cisterna’s movie a hundred miles away from him and his hateful family. So he goes on a trip with his paraplegic and recently MIT-admitted friend Femur (Kyle Mac) on the latter’s mobility device and the cart attached to it.
It would have been painful if the audience had to stick with the annoying Darryl and the whiny Femur so they inadvertently pick up a third for their journey. Along the road is a broken down car owned by boyfriend escaping Kristin (Paula Brancati). Her Sophie’s Choice to go on her way is to either an ice cream vendor who’s also a sex offender or the cart.
Kristin decides the latter and the three are on their way. Brancati is a glowing presence onscreen,a change from her gloomy yet equally powerful turn in “Degrassi TNG.” But her outgoing personality collides with her new dependence and attachment to these men, especially passive towards Darryl’s lies and amateur psychoanalysis. Why is she taking this from a stranger?
The movie has solid attempts towards being cartoony and this is a good thing, distracting from the character’s misanthropy.
This exists on flashbacks as a Darryl’s younger version reminisces about the love of his childhood’s life, drawn hearts and tears and all. These sequences have an off-kilter heart, as these pint-sized versions of the character mix age-inappropriate body, birds and bees humour with good old puppy love.
Darryl is himself a cartoon character, his lanky frame flailing around situations too strange and occasionally funny to be true. With Kristin he meets psychotic innkeepers of a Victorian-styled hotel and a AA costume party.
Another break from the messed up characters and plot happens near the end when Darryl finally meets his woman and not in the way he expects. She’s a fantasy, a woman who, despite her budding career apparently doesn’t care if her girlhood sweetheart is unemployed because she’s a good person and he is too.
This movie just affirms a man’s perceived and undeserved right for instant and consequence-free companionship, and it’s really sad that straight male nerds still think like this.
Bad Movie: The Devil Inside
The Devil Inside, directed by William Brent Bell and co-written by Matthew Peterman, is the first of less than mediocre movies that reached the top spot at the box office during 2012. I know some Oscar bait has a longer run in the theatres than this movie, but I’m reopening wounds by reminding you that it still exists.
Ms. Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) tells her story to a man filming a documentary. Her mother (Suzan Crowley) is in some Italian insane asylum run by the Catholic Church (?). When in Rome, she meets these two priests in a…University class about demonic possessions? I’ll keep an open mind because that’s what some people think about psychology then and now. In fact, exorcism was probably the norm before mental wards came into being. During the class and apres coffee-bar meetings with some of the actually enrolled students who are studying the occult. She discovers that within her new circle of friends are two priests do exorcisms that are not approved by the Church because they believe that the institution somehow is corrupt enough to disregard the well-being of some people possessed by the devil. Knowing what these knights of shining collar do on the sidelines, she enlists them into healing their mother.
But when they try to exorcise Mrs. Rossi, the devil jumps bodies from her to young renegade exorcist Father Keane – he doesn’t show symptoms until he drowns a baby. Then the devil goes to the young woman then to the man filming the documentary. This last possession leads to a anticlimactic ending. Which is unfortunate because they are going somewhere where their questions could be answered. Let’s look at what I said before. The devil jumps bodies, which means that the priests’ exorcising methods aren’t sufficient enough in extinguishing the evil entity possessing a person. The exorcists justify their actions, by saying that they’re spiritually healing certain cases that the Church considers as irredeemable. But what if the Church was in a way protecting those who could be saved, as they quarantine the possessed away from everyone. One body isn’t stronger than another so what’s stopping it from possession a holy man?
Despite of me trying to dig something into this movie, it’s constricted from expanding its ideas about the devil and God and people. And it might be because it set itself too low, choosing too small of a canvas and characters to tell their story that’s not really profound. 2/5.
- Movie Review: ‘The Devil Inside’ (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
Guilty Pleasure? 27 Dresses
I’m sorry for inflicting this movie unto you, which began Katherine Heigl‘s reign of terror of romantic comedies, making films more sexist that the ‘sexist’ Knocked Up. I tuned into 27 Dresses just when the impossibly altruistic Jane (Heigl) juggles two weddings during the same night. The Brooklyn Bridge backdrop during a montage makes it obvious that the studio didn’t want to pay real money for an on location shooting if this queen of box office flops follows her tradition.
Jane’s tricks a handful of people except for one man, Kyle Doyle (James Marsden), a marriage hater who writes for the style section of a minor league newspaper. Which, by the way, what other kind of newspapers are there in the Big Apple between the New York Times and tampon wrappers? Maulik Pancholy and Michael Scott’s girlfriend, by the way, costar as Kyle’s co-staffers. Anyway, Jane’s idealistic, he’s cynical, they bicker until the hour mark where he relents and they fall down the fuck in love.
Movies like this sets up glamorous stars like Heigl into ‘best friend’ types. Let’s dye her hair to a honey brunette so she’ll look frumpier compared to her hotter blonde sister, Tess (Malin Akerman), the latter falling in love with Jane’s boss (Edward Burns, Christy Turlington’s husband)! And what kind of person goes to the club and wears a top that makes her look like a Regency-era woman? Although I do admit that there are parts of this characterization that I believe. Heigl morphs her slender bone structure into showing us herself in her younger years, the kind of girl-turned ingenue with puffy cheeks and wore braces as a child. And there’s something about her line deliveries, a little husk in her alto voice, effectively playing a woman that’s frazzled yet witty.
And you know what? I also don’t mind the script, making its main gimmick to make Heigl look like a loser. It also allows its ensemble of B-list actors to talk on top of each other. This is the kind of movie that would be deemed a ‘classic’ had it been released in the 80’s or earlier. James Marsden’s charisma willfully distracts us from how Kyle is Jane’s terribly written foil.
Again, it’s ridiculous to have Katherine Heigl as the ‘always the bridesmaid’ type but it’s equally unfair for the talented Judy Greer to keep holding the ‘slutty best friend’ torch. She thanklessly gives the movie its dirty tongue colour – watch out for some daddy issues and sexual references from other characters too – and she slaps Heigl here, which is something, I assume, that you also want to do.
- Seriously, Another Katherine Heigl Movie?! (lessthanthreeit.wordpress.com)
Stupid Post! Monster-in-Law
Girl (Jennifer Lopez) meets guy, guy’s mother Viola (Jane Fonda) hates girl, Fonda plays a character less human than the one she played in Barbarella, piece of crap. At least Lopez has enough sense of humour to let the other characters make fun of her figure. And the slapstick wasn’t that bad. I don’t know what I had in me to watch Monster-in-Law, but I blame Fonda, wanting to be a latent best actress completist and all. No, obviously this movie didn’t have awards I’ve heard of, but it’s…fulfilling to see how the mighty have fallen. Although the film has competent cinematography, despite Fonda being mercilessly lit. I do want to pitch a Fonda movie where she, Gloria Steinem and Stephen Colbert cook for feminists. Ninety minutes of it.
Oh hai, Duck Philips, playing the most self-aware asshole in this film. And yes, that title is arbitrary. Also, Will Arnett is in this movie, his character apparently into college age chicks.
My real purpose for writing this post is o upload a picture of Adam Scott wearing women’s clothing. He’s one half of the only family she has in a film full of estranged characters. He doesn’t play his gay character stereotypically, as expected of the versatile character actor. In the first scene, Lopez’ character tells him that he’s allowed to rummage through her drawers while she’s away. If any of my real female friends tells that same joke, I will cut them. The end!
The Brothers Grimm
The titular Brothers Grimm (Heath Ledger, Matt Damon) are quack exorcists, redundant as that is, who, by order of a conquering French military official (Jonathan Pryce), have to face a real enchanted forest and risk their lives in the process.
Sure, there are references to the Limbourg Brothers and the pre-Raphaelite movement, but The Brothers Grimm just has too much CGI and there’s nothing real and/or astounding about the film. Sure, that might be too much to ask for in a fantasy film, but director Terry Gilliam usually uses something concrete. Remember when Parnassus has painted cardboard or plywood trees, but even that was awesome? Actual sets in this film are unfortunately given some weird post-production finish. Even the gold lighting doesn’t help. Auteur hunter Damon and Gilliam regular Ledger do great work, settling for a ‘theatrical’ British accent, even if the plot takes them nowhere. And it’s kind of nice to see Gilliam regular Pryce combine his roles in The Age of Innocence and the Pirates series in one movie. Now if only he can do half-Brazil, half Peron. What is he up to, by the way?
I remember this film being advertised as a horror film, taking the Gilliam-esque comedy out of the trailer. It’s not like the comedy worked too well anyway. The most fascinating thing about this film is the strange surge of German nationalism in a Hollywood film. When was the last time that happened? It focuses the country’s folkloric history. The British or cockney-accented Germans are the good guys and the French-accented French are the bad guys. The film risks labeling Germans as hicks, but they’re not hicks if the tales they believe in are true. And the Red Riding Hood sequence was more haunting than the one in the Amanda Seyfried-Catherine Hardwicke movie that I will probably never see. But unfortunately, those are the film’s only redeeming values.
Seven minutes or so into The Outsiders, the greasers sneak into a drive-in. This place is important because this is where two stratified adolescent groups can meet other than school. Dallas (Matt Dillon) and his greasers bother Cherry Valance (Diane Lane), a ‘soche.’ This this the dumbest name for a social group ever. Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) finally convince Dal to leave her alone.
Cherry decides to talk to Ponyboy and Johnny despite the class distinction and sees them as too young to acquire the toughness that greasers have. After Cherry’s boyfriend separates this informal, unofficial mixer between these two groups, Johnny talks about his hopes for a utopia where there are no greasers or soches. Watching this part of the movie I wonder what their grandchildren would have listened to or what they would have called their social groups.
This film is a chance to see young actors when their talents haven’t evolved yet. The list of bit actors are names who’ll be big years after this film, including Tom Cruse, Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe. All of them deliver at least one badly delivered line, and there’s something strange about watching kids smoke or talk about weed. But the acting could have been worse. It’s chilling to watch Howell and Macchio after Johnny kills Cherry’s boyfriend, the disgust they feel towards themselves after the crime that no child should feel about themselves.
Although I shouldn’t judge a source material I haven’t read yet, I still have a problem with its worldview or director Francis Ford Coppola’s interpretation of it. shouldn’t the two groups just keep to themselves and save themselves the trouble? As I grow older I find it harder to relate to youth and its follies, and I wish I could tap into that again so I could watch this film better.
Running away from a murder charge, Dal advises Johnny and Ponyboy to stay out of the suburb for a while and stay at an abandoned church. Stuck by themselves and with a Civil war novel, they have a chance to grow differently from their peer group. They eventually have to face the conflict between them and the soches through a rumble, but the film doesn’t reach out enough to make me care what happens next.
Enter the Void
The festival talk about Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, sometimes accompanied by stills of women stripping, made me think it was gonna be like his earlier effort Irreversible but with glow sticks. The trailer shows us Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) reminding his promise to his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta) that they’ll stay together forever, and he tries to stick to that promise despite his unplanned journey into the afterlife.
Yes, the film lived up to the first assumptions. I verbally reacted to the gunshot that kills Oscar in a bathroom of a Tokyo dive. Because seriously, who threatens the police with a gun he doesn’t have? There is also a car crash that kills their parents while both younger Oscar and Linda are in the back seat. Other moments in the film, especially the unconventionally disturbing sexual encounters, are arguably violent by definition, but Noe softens the blow for those other moments. In comparison I guess.
We’re seeing this through Oscar’s perspective, with the camera’s distracting pans and tilts, blinks, or when neon-coloured fractals as he trips out. After his death, the camera follows the back of his head, it neither blinks and the digital resolution is blurrier. It’s sad that we barely see the protagonist’s face that’s too handsome and youthful to belong to a character doing hard drugs. I’m even suspecting that the drugs in the plot is just an excuse to level with the neophyte actor’s lack of talent. Brown’s acting is so comatose it’s a relief to see the other characters instead. The actress who plays little Linda (Emily Alyn Lind) is a better actor. de la Huerta gives a great performance but is marred by the camera blurring her or zooming away.
I saw this film someone. We took time before starting the conversation. She then talked about the incestuous ‘undertones’ between the siblings, bringing us to my second set of assumptions, that instead of traumatizing me and tripping me out, that it was gonna be about an emotional bond between the siblings. That Noe grew as an auteur, showing us two great characters together. The accident sets off a series of events, depicted in a non-linear fashion, that separate the two but they eventually meet as sexually charged young adults. Their relationship isn’t the only one seen under a Freudian lens – experiencing the afterlife, Oscar remembers every woman he’s been with and compare them to either his mother or sister. Which I guess is an interesting perspective but it doesn’t pan out well on film. It even felt perverse and unnecessary to me.
With the good and the bad, it also presents an contrarian perspective on reincarnation. The psychedelic gimmick of the film, a feat in itself, isn’t even worth the content.
These movies sucked
Lists like this for me happens in accident, or two years later when the movie comes up on TV and say ‘Hey, that was crap.’ I trust critics. If I read a terrible review, it means I won’t pay 12 bucks for it. There are exceptions. Seven or so of these were movies selected by film festivals in either 2009 or 2010. Making fun of festival movies is like kicking a dead dog, but sometimes I have no choice. Sorry for the grumpiness.
Alice in Wonderland
Les Amours Imaginaires
Enter the Void
Bad Movie: Meet Joe Black
Everybody knows how the yuppie from the coffee shop died, and that as Joe Black, Brad Pitt can do a Jamaican accent. I started tuning into this movie when Joe’s fiending for peanut butter in Bill’s (Anthony Hopkins) kitchen, and slept before the end. And how is Joe the angel of death yet Bill has to tell him what’s right from wrong? This is mid-career Pitt, where most of his movies centred on how he looked. It was the 90’s when for some reason, everyone got away with ridiculous pre-Justin Bieber hair like that. Claire Forlani’s terrible and wooden which means, yes, I disagree with Mick LaSalle. Marcia Gay Harden’s character is the only redemption in this film, yet she still can’t convince me that she doesn’t mind being the favourite. This is a terrible movie, just take my word for it.
Bad Movie: Taking Lives
Despite my moods, I have to consider that Ethan Hawke is a great Broadway actor. That Angelina Jolie has knocked it out of the park at least twice. The latter, my favourite performance of hers, is in black face – and yes, I just willed this sentence to existence. That the Patton Oswalt quasi-apology for bad movies exist. The first shot I’ve seen of Taking Lives and with Jolie’s super-dark hair I thought, wait, why is Salt already on TV? My sister is a big Angelina fan for some reason, and she’ll watch any movie of hers, despite being very well aware that it’s crap.
That Gena Rowlands, who plays Mrs. Asher, is awesome, touches anything she wants and ain’t scared. And she dies. After watching KST getting killed off in a movie, there should be a law against icing great actresses.
Olivier Martinez is also in this mess, because they’re using a Frenchman to convince America that this movie’s set in Quebec.
And Kiefer Sutherland, Canadian, in pictures.
Then Costa (Hawke) befriends a random guy and kills him.
Here’s how it ends. Context – Ileana (Jolie) and Costa has sex without the former knowing that the latter is a killer. He’s pretty gross about the sex too.There’s actually decent acting going on here, Jolie’s cry groaning and Hawke’s creepy soft talk surprisingly the right notes for the scene. But they can’t save this movie at all. Ileana gets fired, moves to some winter yokel town to be alone and bear a child, then whoa, Costa’s back! Yeah, assault that pregnant woman!
Stab her in the stomach!
She stabs him in the heart, and reveals that she’s not really pregnant. I’m not an ob-gyn, but she should be swimming in blood had he put his second or third hand on her. The violence, however, is shocking and ridiculous enough to fasten my willing suspension of disbelief.
And U2’s playing, convincing me that my father is wrong and my friends are right about U2.
Les Amours Imaginaires
Xavier Dolan‘s Les Amours Imaginaires, or Heartbeats is about Francis (Dolan) and Maria Callas lookalike Marie. While writing the previous sentence, I just realized why Dolan named his character ‘Francis.’ Marie, however, is the kind of girl who asks ‘Do you think of movie stars when you make love.’ [ETA: Nobody thinks about movie stars during 90 seconds of lovemaking, stop asking. If you find someone who does think of movie stars while making love, shank them. Sex is like a conversation, you think about yourself and the person in front of you. Nobody’s ADD is that bad. Just because movie stars arouse you and sex arouses you doesn’t mean. Worst syllogism ever. And you know what, Angelina Jolie thinks about movie stars while lovemaking because she’s in a civil union with one. I call a fatwa on this question.] Anyway, these socially awkward young adults find a hot Adonis-like guy in their social circle. The latter’s name is Nicolas, seducer yet seemingly wholesome. By including him in Francis and Marie’s friendship, he should be the third wheel, but he manages to make them feel like said third wheel. Francis changes his description of his ideal to fit Nicolas, and tells this in front of another lover. That this is Francis’s first ‘is he gay’ guy makes me wonder how he never went through this in high school. Or buys Nicolas a plain-looking $500 ‘tangerine’ sweater for a birthday present after knowing him for two months, which oh brother. [ETA: I’ll punch my child in the mouth if he ever makes an expensive mistake like this, which tells a lot about how I was raised.]
Nicolas talks about holding a 91 hours a week seismograph job that he looks too twinky to handle, kisses both Francis and Marie in the cheek, kisses a girl’s hand the first time he meets her. Everyone’s nerdy best friend will tell you that this guy’s bad news, but no such character exists in the film. The nerdy best friend within us keeps thinking of the other times when we got rejected and hoping we weren’t this shattered at 20 or 21. Marie does notice something fishy about him in his drunken birthday party but does nothing about it.
An hour or so after watching the film I realize that Nicolas as a character is deliberately posited with a mysterious, impressionistic sheen in trying to make him more complex and less villainous. He’s the ‘other’ compared to the needy kids that dominate the film. He charms and runs. This cycle might say more about his character than anything Francis thankfully didn’t narrate about him. Making him mysterious, however, doesn’t make him any more sympathetic.
There are also interviews of three Montreal hipsters. Girl 1 will live a life of rejection because her patrician nose and glasses come with a perma-scowl. Boy talks about Kinsey. Girl 2 thinks it’s cute that her beau is 39 minutes late for everything. We come back to these people two more times into the film.
So that’s a total of four bitter girls and boy out of six characters keeping a torch for an undeserved love. The film shows both broken hearts and trying to hide the broken hearts underneath a ‘cool’ exterior – the latter done way awkwardly, by the way. There is interestingly more focus on the former, the interior these characters, than the latter. It’s also mean to negate characters’ hurt feelings. But that Dolan’s worldview suggest that 67% of us are sensitive puppy dogs inside, or that if this state of mind is more accurate than we’d like to admit, or that these people aren’t shown doing other things to distract themselves and have little or no intention to move on. They look like they have had lives before this guy has come along. And where are their parents?
- Quebec filmmaker is ready for his close up (thestar.com)
TIFF: Passion Play
Ex-famous trumpeter Nate Poole’s (Mickey Rourke) the kind of guy who keeps his money with a clip, has a toothpick hanging from his mouth, and deals with an urban underbelly. His tanned-leather stripper blonde friend explains a part of the synopsis. He is almost killed by one of Happy’s (Bill Murray) hitman (Chuck Liddell) for having sex with the latter’s wife, he gets rescued by ninjas, walks into a traveling circus and meets a Bird Woman named Lily (Megan Fox) who rescues him.
There’s something weird continuity-wise that happens in this film. At night, Nate goes into an interior space to have a quick talk with a villain, both defending their stake on Lily. Glass gets broken, Nate escapes, it’s daytime when he comes out.
This movie also probably took me off the Megan Fox team, or her agent. She’s decent in comedy, a genre where she never gets cast. She’s decent here too, playing someone who thinks not getting fat or growing a beard are flaws. She moves her mouth too much I felt relieved that I wasn’t the only person who noticed it. Rourke infamously said in an interview that she can do so much more acting-wise than he’s seen with his former co-stars. Let me just say she’s not the greatest crier he’s ever worked with. Like the movie, the more it progresses, the more she and it fall apart.
In conclusion, needs more of Happy’s over the top line deliveries. I give this a 1/5.
After talking about spousal abuse and Ingmar Bergman, I decided to let my hair down and go watch Flash Gordon ’80 as part of Edgar Wright’s series “The Wright Stuff,” educating Toronto hipsters about movies he likes. Flash Gordon is like Barbarella with a dude and less sex and more coherent and funnier.Basically, our hero Flash and his love interest, Dale, accidentally find themselves as prisoners and rebels on the Mongo empire. There’s a scene when Flash tries to telepathically communicate with Dale, but he gets distracted.
Flash: Oh my God. This girl’s really turning me on!
Dale Arden: I didn’t quite get that. Think it again…
Oh, girl. You did not wanna know.
Or the scene when the opposite prongs of the love triangle, Dale and Princess Aura finally meet. They yell at each other about being prisoners without talking about who is imprisoning them. And of course, pillow fight!
Princess Aura: But my father has never kept a vow in his life!
Dale Arden: I can’t help that, Aura. Keeping our word is one of the things that make us… better than you.
Maybe this movie was too early for its time, with its snark and all, but at the same time the aesthetics totally belongs to the cusp of the 80’s. It also fits within the transition between New Hollywood and the 80’s in a way that this movie is where the crazy went too far. But you know, it’s a beautiful film. Queen provides the soundtrack. Timothy Dalton is in a perfect age in this movie, acting as if this movie was Shakespeare, proposing to his girlfriend Princess Aura after she gets him out of the dungeons. Max von Sydow elevates yellow face into an art form, and yes, an Asian guy just wrote that.
There’s nothing real about this movie. As Wesley Morris wrote of the spin and sweep and woosh of the camera, trying to depict a vast magical world, it’s all CGI. When the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) fails to kill literally fallen star Yvaine (Claire Danes) and belts that big scream, the camera didn’t need to zoom and fly up. The movie turned a human moment – for a witch – into a technical exercise.
Fine, maybe a few things and real. First is the iceberg-laden beach scene with Prince Septimus (Mark Strong). This movie’s a great outing for him. His line read of ‘Do your work for my brother,’ is amazing, just evoking ruthlessness. Evil doesn’t break a sweat. He also fights out teenage hero Tristan while his body’s supposed to be dead, and I bought his physicality.
Then this scene where Tristan and Yvaine are just walking. There are other scenes like floating ships and craters that need CGI, or the latter just being shot in a set or something and again, no need to zoom out till later. Actual locations. Too much to ask? Just tone the CGI down, please.
I also totally didn’t get the Claire Danes hate until this movie. While she’s confessing her love to Tristan in the form of a mouse, she oversells it. Her face uncontrollably twists and she produces little bumps on her face that I never thought was humanly possible.
Other than the one scene and one b-roll, the movie had finer moments in Captain Shakespeare (Robert de Niro). His performance and hammy yet adorable. However, for British movie with a half-American cast, the accents aren’t that bad. Thank God for the generation of Carey Mullgan though, when British characters can be played by British actresses again.
I changed the channel 15 minutes before the end of the movie, and frankly, I can probably guess how it ends.
And oh hai, Ricky Gervais. I guess Andy Millman’s meeting with Robert de Niro worked out fine.
James Mason: Age of Consent
Powell made “Age of Consent” in his later years and it seems like he’s trying to make his aesthetic more “groovy.” Instead of the manicured beauty of “The Red Shoes,” “Age of Consent” has a documentarian’s approach, finding beauty in accidents. I found the shot of animals frolicking in vegetated areas having the same spirit as the cherry blossom shots in “Black Narcissus,” that latter of which I only have a vague recollection of. Imagine “Age of Consent” as a movie directed by Sister Ruth, with a primal, natural approach. Yet I wonder what I would be thinking if I didn’t know who the director was.
In a way Age of Consent goes within the same thread as the “Narcissus” or “The Red Shoes” where a person of power goes into another land and has a complex relationship with the ones he’s technically subjugating.
James Mason and Helen Mirren are thus entwined within this creepy rendition of Pygmalion and Galatea, just like any good Pygmalion narrative. If they were the stars of “My Fair Lady,” that would have been a better film. A bland Australian painter (Mason) finds his muse, Cora (Mirren) when he goes back home to an unpopulated beach. Mason has his most mentally balanced roles in this film, while Mirren, at the top of her game is at her most beautiful while straddling the boundary of classy and trashy. Mirren will again tap into both around a decade later in “Caligula,” and after that, almost never again.
Despite of what I said about Mirren, better writing could have helped her character. In one moment she’s the perfect muse, even giving artistic suggestions to Mason, in another she’s a catatonic child who wants romance from a guy she met just weeks ago. There also should have been more direct protestation against their relationship. Having Cora’s alcoholic, abusive grandmother as the only one pointing out how sketchy this relationship is just feels a little inconsistent.
Inside Out: Is It Just Me?
(Fine. This picture made me want to watch the movie. ph. InsideOut)
Despite what the movie’s presenter said, yes you are. I’m protective of queer cinema. Director J.C. Calciano aims to set the movie’s protagonist Blaine (Nicholas) as a romantic in sex crazed Los Angeles, making both look like caricatures. Fine, the movie shows the internet as a locus where a gay man can find a kindred spirit as he does with Texan lonestarwhatever, or Xander (David Loren). It also shows Blaine adamantly refusing to play the hookup game and I guess that’s admirable. Can he at least lighten up while he’s in the bar setting? The movie comes off as slightly contemptuous of the gay scene, but I guess he’s allowed to do that. If the presentation wasn’t so clunky, the acting so perfunctory and the script written by a child, it wouldn’t take me four hours to concede that there is some good in this film.
Bad Movie: Clue
(Sorry for not writing, by the way. I had two days of debauchery)
“Clue” is the first movie screened at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Tickets were free, crowd was amazing, puns are great. Wish you were there. The movie was fun. I guess the slow parts were there to pace the movie because I can’t be laughing the whole time. But it would have been more fun if I drank up while watching.
Just like these people.
NOW Magazine’s review of “Freddy vs. Jason,” where the unnamed staff member said that you could have watched that drunk because the script and the synopsis were pretty much the same. A chunk of “Clue” was like that too. Expect that the butler (the workaholic Tim Curry) rapidly doled out the series of events without breaking a sweat. As Miss Scarlet dressed in a green version of the infamous Scarlett O’Hara red dress, Leslie Ann Warren does her best Susan Sarandon. And the rest of the cast has impeccable comic timing. Good to know that it takes a lot of acting chops to make whatever this is.
Also, I love watching this chick die.
Also, the print that the cinema had is the one with ending A.
The movie was good enough to wear out my friends, and they were hungry, and I was gonna be late for a party, so we unfortunately skipped “Big Trouble in Little China.”
Late Thoughts: “Shutter Island”
Riku Writes his second post on “Shutter Island.” This may or may not be a good response to both posts. Unlike him, I haven’t read the book and I should. I’m just gonna talk about elements in this movie that I liked and disliked. I saw it through a free promotional screening through CINSSU the day before it came out, and it’ll take a lot of convincing for me to actually pay towatch it again.
That the second Rachel Solando (Patricia Clarkson) never really gets explained in Scorsese’s movie, and don’t you dare take that away from me. That shot of Teddy Daniels’ (Leonardo di Caprio) face while he’s drugged and dreaming, white as lightning. That Dolores (Michelle Williams) looks beautiful even though she wears the same fucking yellow dress. That Ted Levine. That the score crept into my spine and I don’t care if I heard it before. That sometimes I think the star rating system is bullshit for putting “interesting failure” below “flawed first feature by an up and coming autuer.” That Elias Koteas incites both my lust and wanting to build a time machine to see a young Robert de Niro, even if he intended to scare me.
That if Quentin Tarantino made the same movie, people would have fawned over it. That it would still have had Oscar nominations if it was released last year, and now that opportunity is gone.
That infuriating, clichéd high angle shot when he finds out that his children are dead. That not even Martin Scorsese can come up with a good ending to a horror movie, because when was the last time you saw that? That Scorsese and/or Lehane didn’t really need to incorporate the Holocaust into this movie. That the premise of the story was unconvincing. That Teddy Daniels’ arc from contempt against the insane to sympathizing with them was, again, unconvincing. That you knew the ending to this movie by just watching the trailer. That even by knowing the ending, would it still be worth it just for the ride? That seriously, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino knows how to use the n-word in a movie better than you do, and that’s shameful in so many ways, and if you use that word again, I will cut you.
p.s. NicksFlickPicks writes a more articulate version of most of the stuff I say above.
“Empress” Double Bill
(Poor little rich girl ph. secret)
My English teacher in high school pretty much said that you can write a unifying topic about any two texts. I’ve used that spirit in this blog, and it’s been useful while watching both “The Young Victoria, out on DVD last Tuesday, and “Alice in Wonderland.” My focus is not on how good they are. “Young Victoria” is passable and “Alice in Wonderland” sucks donkey. I thought at first that the Queen Mother documentary and my kooky mind was the only thing both movies had in common but boy was I wrong.
On the surface, both movies are about girl power. My basic knowledge of the titular “Young Victoria” was her older self, she was the most powerful woman in the world but is crippled by mourning her husband’s death. What the film shows is a girl (Emily Blunt) who, like many renowned rulers, have no or have lost her siblings and cousins. It also shows her fighting off her stepfather Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) who wants her to sign her regency away to him in what could have been her deathbed. It’s a typical female royal narrative about having to deal with the men who try to influence her, the movie thankfully incorporating treaties and negotiations and letter writing culture that Royal history was full of. Nonetheless, the men break down either through her own strength or through fortunate circumstances. She forges political partnerships with men like William IV (Jim Broadbent), Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) and her husband Prince Albert (Rupert Friend, our generation’s Omar Sharif).
Alice in “Alice in Wonderland” goes through the same things as Queen Victoria. She’s the daughter of a businessman who’s imaginative as he is – he wants to venture into other continents, she dreams of fantasy lands. Growing up (Mia Wasikowska, groomed as a pallid Gwyneth Paltrow), her mother and sister thinks of her good enough to marry into blue blooded English snots. If she even thinks about not marrying the aristocratic Hamish, her peers remind her of the delusional old maid Aunt Imogen. She storms out of her engagement party not defiantly but to chase a rabbit she can only see, hence out of a compulsion to regress into her childhood dreams. Going into the rabbit hole she falls on hard surfaces, gets scratched up by huge animals and gain the courage to meet her destiny and kill the Jabberwock.
The most interesting parts for me for both films were the last acts, since the emancipation of one results into the slavery of many.* We feel her empowerment when she snips at Prime Minister Peel about her ladies-in-waiting, but a bit uncomfortable when she has a shouting match with her husband about her ladies-in-waiting. Sure, both sides have their faults, but she asserts herself to him many times that she’s her Queen and he can only leave a room when he’s dismissed. They kiss and make up, and the title cards in the end show that Victoria births nine children who will rule the crowns of Britain, Germany, Russia, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Greece and they forgot Denmark. Ironically, at least half of those monarchies still stand.
In “Alice in Wonderland” Alice stays true to her father’s mercantile leanings but now uses aristocratic influence to do something profitable. She refuses Hamish’s hand in marriage but has a business proposition in store for his father, Lord Ascot. Her father and Lord Ascot’s business has posts in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, but she presents the opportunity to tap into China and its products. Ambition wins him over, and she gets her ships. In a way China becomes her wonderland – they do have tea after all. And as we historically know, China really loved every minute of that.
We can’t, however, show our disdain towards womanhood for heralding English political and economic imperialism, since men just have a hand in shaping both characters. “Young Victoria” implies that Victoria’s uncle, King Leopold of Belgium, takes credit for making many crowns in Europe bear the name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Victoria and Albert can be either lying to themselves or actually have made an honest, loving relationship out of a marriage strategized by those above her. “Alice in Wonderland” has a bit sinister – some may call it honest – portrayal of a man behind the great woman. Alice maybe seen as her father’s daughter. Lord Ascot notices the look in her eyes that eerily reminds him of her father, but goes ahead and follows her whims anyway. Both women are figureheads in both an active or passive definition still makes me uncomfortable for a few seconds.
*I know that I’m treading murky waters here, and I’m blaming my red-eye working habits and thumping headache/sinuses if I get un-PC).
Bad Movie: The Room
Worst movie ever?
A friend of a friend who saw this with me said that the worst movie ever is “Battlefield Earth.” That apparently was a Tower of Babel-like effort, watching the fall of a multitude of bricks, just like the worst movie ever must be.
But then I’m paraphrasing what my TA said in person, while showing two scenes from the film to his class, that seeing “The Room” can make anyone appreciate all the other movies ever made because this one’s made so artlessly. Most of the other terrible films has consistent shot by shot continuity but they’re dragged down by a bad script or bad acting. The terrible editing can also make the movie earn its title.
What else? That Lisa (Juliette Danielle) cheating on Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) with Mark looks like Jesus porking post breakdown Britney Spears – also that Juliette Danielle, not the worst actress in the world, sounds like Britney Spears is gross. And yes, she should cheat because Mark’s cuter. Nice casting, Wiseau! And that the sex scenes are like white people and the Robert de Niro Frankenstein cast in a Tyler Perry movie. And that I’m starting to hate guys who buy their girlfriends flowers.
And the offensive interior decoration that looks worse than Harpo’s taste in china. It could be worse – the red/white/brown colour scheme that dominates the rooms don’t drive me crazy. But the random gray marble columns and pipes that ugly up the red walls. That the cast insists on having sex on white surfaces and that is unacceptable except for hotel rooms. That tinted windows and heavy curtains in homes are for poor film productions or Greta Garbo. That hideous faux ermine stole on the sofa with dour looking throw pillows. How a man or his girlfriend manages to have no gay friends in San Francisco is beyond me. Why are there lamps in front of windows? Why do the prints lack character? Why is there a makeshift seating at the foot of the stairs? Why does the hearth look like it was never lit? Why does Lisa’s friend lie down on the couch like that? How rude.
And Lisa’s blonde hair and jet black eyebrows. And Lisa wearing blue eyeshadow after having sex.
And Johnny’s tragic fashion sense looks worse because of his face.
And the worst reaction to a blow job on a friend’s living room.
Tommy Wiseau, after realizing that this is a black comedy and passing it off as thus, and people aren’t buying it. For a few seconds, he gets a believer in me when I hear Lisa’s mother complain about the people who come and go in the house. Then she talks about her cancer again and I’m back at realizing that she’s Wiseau’s unintentionally surrealist creation, just like every other character.
This movie also shatters every other person’s dreams of making a film out of their broken hearts and worry that they might end up repeating this.
How was this in the big screen? I’d say go and see in with a friend on DVD/whatever first. Then go to the screening. Half of the crowd’s surprisingly good-looking but they’re a rambunctious crowd. I couldn’t even hear what the characters were saying half the time, and for a while I’m thinking this is just a mediocre movie with too much hype. And I was sober.
They did, however, hold the sanctity of that flower shop scene and quieted down. And the shadows of the spoons thrown towards the screen was mesmerizing to look at.
May 21 at the Royal, for those who dare.