Archive for the ‘Movies J-L’ Category

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Bullets, broads, guyliner, and hair gel: “Mobsters”

January 13, 2013

movie_7206As I mentioned in my review of Gangster Squad, that movie put me in mind of Mobsters—a movie that I saw upon its release in 1991 (my girlfriend was a big Christian Slater fan) and haven’t thought about since…a couple days later in 1991. Now, as with Gangster Squad, this is not a “good” movie per se. It’s not really even an adequate one. It’s, well, it’s a pretty bad one. What surprised me upon revisiting this film 20 years later is that it’s actually not that much worse than Gangster Squad. As a matter of fact, it’s probably better plotted than Gangster Squad and any number of other mid-range movies released this year. And that’s pretty depressing, because Mobsters is not a film that should be almost better than anything.
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The next Best Picture winner: “Killer Joe”

December 17, 2012

Killer Joe posterHa ha ha! No, I’m totally jerking your chain. Killer Joe is the long-awaited, somewhat-anticipated return of William Friedkin to the helm of a motion picture. His last outing was the 2006 flop Bug—a movie that was not about an infestation of killer bugs, regardless of what the commercials and trailers would have you think (promotional materials basically exist to screw with you). Like that film, Killer Joe is also based on a play by Tracy Letts. Unlike that film, Killer Joe arrives amid a swirl of low-key awe within the critical consensus—which still only amounted to a limited release. Anyway, after seeing Killer Joe, I gotta tell you two things: 1) KJ is a black (very- very-black) comedy, so be prepared for that; and 2) There is no way the Academy is touching this movie with a ten-foot pole while wearing welder’s gloves.
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Beware the horny Shatner! “Kingdom of the Spiders”

October 11, 2012

Kingdom of the Spiders was one of those movies on seemingly constant rotation on HBO in the early ‘80s—that and Outland: apparently the programmers in those days were positively enthralled with spiders and Sean Connery—but I was always too chicken to watch it with my buds (whose parents weren’t puritanical whack jobs when it came to cable TV). There’s a good reason for that: spiders skeeve me out. Not Indiana Jones-and-snakes-level skeeve, but…I’m sorry nothing should have that many eyes. I’m not thrilled about the segmented body and fangs either. Anyway, I decided to catch up with KotS now, a scant 28 or so years later, since I am an adult and thus, immune to fear. My first impression of this film: Sweet Crap, it has Shatner! My next impression: Whoa, Shatner on the prowl is even creepier than the spiders!
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Killing time: “Looper”

September 29, 2012

Looper isn’t a hugely twisty-turny movie, but the plot developments it does have are pretty important, so I’m not going to spoil anything you couldn’t see in the trailers. Plus, this is a really, really good movie, so you should go out and see it. You should see it right now. What are you doing right now that’s more important than seeing Looper? Unless you’re performing open-heart surgery or negotiating with North Korea, you can see Looper. And if you’re doing one of those two things, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this. But if you aren’t attempting to avert World War III, then, yeah, go see Looper. It’s not the best sci-fi movie ever made, but it’s up there.
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Guilty Pleasures: “Judge Dredd”

July 20, 2012

[For my review of the 2012 version starring Karl Urban click here]

God help me, but I love this movie.

I can’t really explain it. There’s just something comforting about this mid-‘90s slab of cheese. It’s like Taco Bell: you’re fully aware that by any objective measure it’s utterly terrible, and yet it seems to put so little effort into being good that you just think, “Eh. It’s not like it failed…” From a cinematic standpoint, it’s a nice time capsule of a curious period, when action movies were struggling to redefine themselves. The era of ‘roided-up monstrosities had pretty much ended with Terminator 2, and now both Stallone and Schwarzenegger found their stars on the wane as audiences embraced everyman heroes like Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s response would be to punch an alligator, play the Terminator again, and then go into politics. Stallone’s response was to make increasingly rococo pictures starting with Demolition Man and continuing with Judge Dredd.

Still, there’s a lot I find irresistible about this very, very bad movie. Such as…
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The uneven red planet: “John Carter”

March 12, 2012

So, John Carter has finally arrived—albeit in a toxic dustcloud of pessimistic expectations and bad press. Well, when you’ve hidden your 250 million dollar movie from critics, I guess you gotta expect that. Likewise, when you pave the way for the film with a cryptic ad campaign that mostly seems to consist of dudes riding big weird animals and depressing music during the preview, and finally retitle the film from John Carter of Mars (riiight, that “of Mars” part was the big problem here), you have to expect that the long knives will be out and rubberneckers will be waiting with baited breath to see the carnage. Well, I hate to break it to you, but while John Carter isn’t a great film, it’s not a trainwreck, either. It’s even pretty good, when it’s not really boring.
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Kill me now: “Jack and Jill”

February 27, 2012

A couple months ago, I wrote “The Case Against Adam Sandler” as a part of my review of Just Go With It. Man, if I knew this movie was chambered and ready to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting human race, I would have saved myself a thousand words and just written, “wait for Jack and Jill,” because there’s no better evidence than this movie that Sandler either holds all of us in total contempt or is a complete hack. There’s really no middle ground. No way this film can be justified or explained away. It is every bit as insipid as it looks. Moreover, it plays like a full-length version of one of those clips Sandler’s Funny People character watches with mild embarrassment. Only this is real, and Sandler no doubt thinks he made Citizen fucking Kane.
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