Posts Tagged ‘review’

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Wow! That didn’t totally suck! “Faster”

February 28, 2011

So, I guess the planets all lined up right, or maybe the end times are upon us or something, but for once a movie actually exceeded my expectations. That’s rare. Really rare. Like see-a-falling-star/Charlie-Sheen-is-sober-today rare. I sat in the movie theater thinking: What movie am I here to see again? Oh yeah, Faster…ugh! Why am I waiting to see this? Oh yeah, raspberry popcorn.  Then the movie began and by the time I got to the scene where the yoga-practicing hit man is revealed to have been a crippled child, and is now an insane overachiever, something wonderful something amazing happened: I realized the movie didn’t totally suck.  It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but for an action flick catering to the Creatine-pounding, steroids-and-tribal-tattoo crowd, it’s a remarkably substantial piece of storytelling.
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It’s the end of the world…and I feel fine: “2012”

November 23, 2009

No one blows up the world with quite the same aplomb as Roland Emmerich. Whether it’s aliens decimating our major cities in Independence Day or global warming burying the statue of liberty nipple-deep in snow, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Emmerich regards being filmmaker as something akin to a six year-old with a massive set of LEGOS. Sure you can build stuff, but the real fun is smashing it. His unique talent is melding this sensibility with storytelling talent just mediocre enough to keep the audience from emotionally-connecting with the world he presents onscreen. If he were a better filmmaker, we might feel a moment of dread at watching the wanton devastation unfold before us. Thankfully for us all, he’s not. This was a liability in his last film, 10,000 BC, in which he was called upon to, you know, tell a story. Instead he ended up meandering through a bunch of half-baked ideas, while expecting us to care about his characters (never a strong point in a Roland Emmerich movie),  and in the process did to history what Roman Polanski did to that 13 year-old girl in Jack Nicholson’s hot tub. With 2012, he is back where he belongs: using the spectacle of destroying everything in sight to distract us from the annoying characters that populate the movie.

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REPOST: Again with the crocodiles: “Rogue”

October 29, 2009


Well, color me surprised and not a little contrite. Here I was going into Rogue with my critical scalpels sharpened, ready to properly eviscerate it, and to find—surprise, surprise—that’s actually an effective little thriller. In my defense, I did sit through Primeval, and the experience left me predisposed to treating giant crocodile movies in more of less the same manner as the villagers treated Frankenstein’s monster. Yet, this movie exceeded my expectations.

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This movie shoots its load: “G.I. Joe”

August 20, 2009

gi_joeProbably the best way to see G.I. Joe is in the company of a 13 year-old boy—preferably one hopped up on Mountain Dew and videogames. If nothing else the proximity to pure, raw enthusiasm for good guys slugging it out with bad guys in cool futuristic vehicles will help dispel a lot of the cynicism inherent in a movie based on a toy based on a bigger toy and directed by the yokel who made Van Helsing. I didn’t have access to an excitable 13 year-old boy, but I had the next best thing, my loyal companion Jaidee (Robin to my Batman, Tubbs to my Crockett, Rose Tyler to my Doctor Who) who, despite being a lovely Thai woman, was once an MP in the Royal Thai Army, and is, at heart, a rambunctious kid. In the weeks since showing her the movie’s trailer, I’ve been treated to endless enquiries, “When we gonna see G. I. Joe?” “How long until G. I. Joe comes out?” “So cool! Jeng maak maak!” And, every so often I’ve had to dodge or deflect an open-hand blow playfully aimed at my windpipe accompanied by a war whoop.
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Michael Mann Week(ish) Concludes: Why I Love “Collateral”

August 17, 2009

collateral3wTo cap off Michael Mann Week(ish), I’d like to hold forth a little bit about my personal favorite Mann movie, Collateral. It’s not Mann’s greatest film—Heat or The Insider would probably rank above it—but it’s the one I connect with most viscerally. Part of it, I’m sure, has to do with the time in my life when I saw it. I was emerging, like Jamie Foxx’s Max, from my own purgatory and forced into life-changing action. Beyond the personal, however, there’s a lot about Collateral that Mann’s films usually don’t pay attention to or get a chance to notice. Anyway, let’s run down what’s awesome about Collateral. Since I’m lazy I’m doing this in list form.

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Michael Mann Week: The Oeuvre of Mann

August 11, 2009

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From his earliest films, Michael Mann established certain signature cinematic traits: a distinct visual style, remarkable soundtracks, protagonists who are consummate professionals at whatever they do, and at least an undercurrent of masculine struggle and angst. What is remarkable is how these traits have shifted, transformed, and matured over the years and course of his filmography. Let’s explore this shall we? C‘mon, like you have anything better to do…

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Michael Mann Week!

August 10, 2009

Collateral-LebensgefahrWell, it looks like Michael Mann weekend has turned into Michael Mann week. I’d originally intended just to do a double-whammy of reposting the Miami Vice review with the Public Enemies one, but I’ve found I have more to say about Mann.

Along with being a pioneering visual stylist Mann is one of the few filmmakers to explore the masculine persona onscreen. In his world, the characteristics of being a man are 1) consummate professionalism 2) dedication to craft and code, and 3) an existential alienation and loneliness that stems, in part, from numbers 1 and 2. If there’s a certain degree of martyrdom in this outlook, well, it’s at least preferable to most entertainment—and culture–which regard being a man as being infantile and sex-obsessed, with women being either the civilizing agent (i.e. Knocked Up) or, more often, the intractable killjoy who must be brought around the male way of thinking.  Mann is one of the few filmmakers that attaches to the male identity an overriding sense of responsibility.

On top of that his films usually feature great music, awesome gun-handling and at least one classic action sequence. So without further ado…

POST: “The Oeuvre of Mann”

POST: “The Women of Mann”

POST: “The Guns of Mann”

POST: “Why I Love Collateral”