Archive for the '1' Category

Adore

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

*

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The year’s most hilarious drama.

Adore

The H-Bomb:  I was thinking to myself just the other day, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a good Art House Fail.  Films the likes of Passion Play or Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control.  Movies that try to be edgy and provocative, that try to convey some kind of deeper meaning or significance, but that just end up falling flat on their pompous, pretentious, highfalutin faces.  After giving Adore a go on Netflix, I can now say that I have indeed found such a film.

The English language debut of Luxembourg-born director, Anne Fontaine, adapting the book The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing, Adore tells the rather lurid tale of Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), best friends who grew up together in a small Australian coastal town, and have been pretty much inseparable since childhood.  Now in their early forties, Lil is a widow, Roz has a husband (Ben Mendelsohn) who is always away on business, and both women have young adult sons, who are themselves best of friends.  Lil’s lad is Ian (Xavier Samuels), and Roz’s is Tom (James Frecheville).

Lil and Roz spend most of their free time, which they seem to have a lot of, sipping wine and sunbathing on the beach, while their sons go surfing.  More specifically, Lil and Roz like to gaze out at their well cut sons as they surf, with Roz commenting at one point, “They’re almost ethereal… like a couple of gods.”  And if you think that’s creepy, you ain’t heard nothing yet.  One night, after a little too much wine, Ian starts putting the moves to Roz, and the two of them end up spending the night together, dancing the horizontal mambo.

Tom finds out that Ian is boinking his mother, and is none too happy about it.  So, in order to get even… you guessed it, Tom goes to Ian’s mum, Lil, and they themselves start doing the bedroom bang-bang.  When Lil and Roz see each other again, each one knowing about the other’s indiscretion, they both agree, in a moment of temporary sanity, that what they are doing with each other’s sons is just sick and wrong in every conceivable way, and they should probably just stop.

But, before logic can get too strong a foothold, they both say the hell with decency, the heart desires what the heart desires, and they allow this utterly freakish, inter-family fuck fest to go on.  Who else wants to puke?  Anyway, two years go by, and the arrangement hasn’t changed, except that Roz is now divorced from her absentee husband, which means she is free to bang Ian without having to hide it at all.  Tom, meanwhile, is an aspiring theatre director who gets a job offer in Sydney.  That leaves Lil all alone with no boy toy to play with… poor her.

Unfortunately for Lil, things are about to get even worse.  While in Sydney, Tom has met a girl.  A girl he really likes and starts courting, and before anyone knows it, they’re engaged to be married.  How will this effect Tom’s relationship with Lil?  Or Ian’s relationship with Roz?  Will the mothers do what they should have done two years ago and end these twisted affairs once and for all?  Or will they try to undermine Tom’s new relationship?  If you’re really curious as to where it all goes from here, then I must inquire… what is your fucking damage?

Mein Gott… does this fart house film fail, or does this fart house film fail!  Equal parts creepy, melodramatic, and downright disgusting, Adore presents such an icky and warped premise that it plays so sincerely, that the only possible outcome is unintentional comedy.  For roughly the first half hour or so, it unfolds like a well photographed, but rather languid indie drama.  Then the “story” starts to set in… and the laughter begins.  For me, the shift occurs when Roz questions Tom about his initial fling with Lil, and he answers, “I did with her what Ian did with you!”  To which she responds by slapping him across the face.

It was at that point, that I burst out laughing.  It was purely an uncontrollable, knee-jerk reaction.  It took me a few moments to even realize that I was doing it.  I know that that wasn’t the filmmaker’s intended reaction.  I know I was supposed to find it oh so compelling and disturbing (and at that, it does sort of succeed), but I found it simply hilarious.  I knew then that what I was in for was perhaps the single most laugh-out-loud funny drama this side of The Room.  Once I realized this, my mood brightened.  Don’t get me wrong, Adore is one stinking, steaming pile of shit… but at times, it’s a highly amusing one… albeit entirely by accident.

Sadly for Adore, it doesn’t keep the laughs coming at a constant pace the way Tommy Wiseau did, and it ultimately turns into a boring, monotonous slog of a film with absolutely no interesting conflict, or effective dramatic tension, or anything else that would normally hold an audience’s attention.  I guess Fontaine and screenwriter Christopher Hampton believed that a couple of MILFs shagging each other’s hunky sons would be enough… they were mistaken.  When this under-cooked soap opera finally does reach its would be climax in the last reel, it has no emotional impact whatsoever.

Watts and Wright are two fine actresses, two of our finest, really, and they do try their very best, but with characters this shallow, in a script this flat, there was really nothing they could do.  You’d think that characters who are this royally fucked in the head would have some substance that they could latch onto, but there isn’t and they can’t.  The fact that neither one of them had a shred of chemistry with their respective lovers only helped in maintaining my complete lack of interest.

Long and short of it, when Adore didn’t have me pissing myself with its laughably overblown earnestness, it had me bored to bloody tears with its sense of repetition and dramatic inertia.  I’m sure everyone who signed on to this project thought that they were making a subversive, provocative piece of cinema that would really push the envelop… yeah, well, the makers of Showgirls thought they were doing the same.  If you’re in the mood for some unintended chuckles, then by all means, give it a look and have a good laugh.  Otherwise, this perverse, avant-garde misfire isn’t worthy of your time nor your attention.

 

Twixt

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

*

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“You can’t change time, time changes you.”

Twixt

The H-Bomb: When I think of the great filmmakers who emerged from the Golden Age of 70’s cinema, Francis Ford Coppola almost immediately comes to mind, and with good reason. This is the man who in the span of that decade gave us The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. Those four films alone have earned him his status of being one of the greatest American directors to have ever lived, even if most of his films post-1970’s have been varying degrees of meh. I remember when I first fell in love with his work in the early 00’s, I realized that he was a true visionary (even though you would never know it from watching Jack), and I wished that he would come out of retirement and start working these “personal films” that he kept saying he wanted to make.

Well, after a decade of silence, Coppola the director finally did re-emerge in 2008 with Youth Without Youth, and followed that up with Tetro in 2009. After getting a gander at that cinematic double header… honestly, I wished he stayed in retirement. They weren’t uninteresting, but without really getting into it, they weren’t very good, either. When I caught wind of his latest project, Twixt, described as a horror thriller starring Val Kilmer (oh dear…), my curiosity was piqued, and I was hopeful that Coppola would finally reaffirm his status as a Hollywood legend.

Did he…? No. No he did not. In fact, I would say that of his trio of “comeback” films, Twixt is easily the worst. Now, calling it a “horror thriller” is indeed accurate… if you are willing to excuse the complete absence of horror, thrills, or even a remote sense of tension or suspense. What we get in lieu of all that is confusion, boredom, some of the worst fucking green screen effects you’ll ever see in your life, and Val Kilmer drinking… a lot.

Coppola, who wrote the “screenplay” for this mess, sets his tale in a quirky little town that, as we’re told by Tom Waits’ narration, has a clock tower with seven faces (the relevance of which was lost on me), and is the location where a string of child murders has taken place. Enter our hero, Hall Baltimore (Kilmer, who has morphed into a 250-pound, pony-tailed gorilla), a “bargain basement Stephen King” mystery writer who rolls into town on a book signing tour. Due to a somewhat recent family tragedy, Baltimore drinks more than he writes, and his career is kind of in the toilet. He is in desperate need of a hit, as his wife (Joanne Whalley, Kilmer’s real life ex) is up to her neck in unpaid bills and is threatening to sell his first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass… a possession he understandably cherishes.

Unfortunately for our overfed hero, people aren’t exactly lining up in droves at his book signing, the location of which is, I’ll admit, hilarious. Hall is about to call it a day when he’s approached by Sheriff Bobby LeGrange (Bruce Dern), a rather loopy aspiring writer who refers to himself in the third person… always a sign of crazy. LeGrange wastes no time in sharing the town’s rather morbid history with Baltimore, before inviting him down to the morgue to check out the latest victim of the serial killer. This victim is a 12 or 13-year-old female that nobody in town knew, who was killed by a stake to the heart.

LaGrange, who suspects that the murders are being committed by a gang of emo freaks that hang around the lake outside of town, proposes that he and Baltimore write a book together about the murders, while simultaneously trying to solve them. Initially, Baltimore blows him off, having no intention of hanging around this one horse shithole for any longer than he has to. Then that night, he has a dream, a vivid one in which he meets a young, pale skinned girl named V (Elle Fanning), who leads him to an old abandoned hotel where several children vanished. When Baltimore awakes, he has an epiphany of sorts, that the key to solving the murders and writing his book lies in his dreams. It’s in his sleep where he meets up with the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin), who helps him unlock the secrets of the town’s dark past.

If all that sounds slightly confounding and more than a little stupid to you, then fear not, dear reader, for you are not alone. Coppola claims that the idea for Twixt came from a nightmare he had. If there’s any truth to that, then this film is proof positive that dreams should be shared with a therapist, and a therapist alone, because entertaining cinema this is not. I’ve never been a fan of Coppola’s adaptation of Dracula (Keanu Reeves as Harker… whoa), but goddamn was it better than this dull, disjointed, pretentious hodge-podge that fancies itself a “modern” vampire tale… yes, that’s ultimately what Twixt turns into.

The film’s biggest liability is the screenplay, which is unfocused, illogical, sloppily structured, and so ridiculously convoluted it’s often incomprehensible. Mystery is good, incoherency is bad. It’s obvious that Coppola strove for the former, but only achieved the latter, and by the time it reached its less-than-thrilling resolution, I was so bored and bewildered that I didn’t care in the slightest. Even at a slim 88 minutes, it really fucking dragged and just went on and on for an eternity. It also doesn’t help that he forces a kind of Twin Peaks style of quirkiness into the film, that results in annoying small town stereotypes and some pathetically unfunny attempts at black comedy. Note to Hollywood: Not everyone who lives in a small town is a Goddamn weirdo!

I could use Coppola’s piece of shit script as a punching bag all day, but I also have a nasty bone to pick with some of the film’s technical aspects. First, there’s his use of split screen, which he employs throughout the movie at random, with no discernible purpose. Then there’s the Sin City visual aesthetic he uses for the many dream sequences, with the black and white CGI backdrops… a stylized look that is out of place, and just looks like shit, as if the picture had an effects budget of approximately five bucks. Sorry, but when it’s that obvious that the actors are on a set with nothing more than a giant green screen, it pretty much kills the illusion.

I really wish I could think of something nice to say, but Coppola’s given me jack shit to work with. Normally I could maybe look to the performances, but since Kilmer is looking less like Batman these days and more like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, he was truly painful to look at. It’s fitting that he does a Brando impersonation at one point (from Apocalypse Now, no less), because that’s who he reminded me of… a bloated Brando. That he totally phones in his performance does the film no favors, either.

I started this review with a quote from the film stating that time changes people. Well, I would say time has turned Francis Coppola into a hack (and Val Kilmer into a bonafide fat ass). The story is infuriatingly incoherent and the production values are amateurish at best. I’d hate to see such a legendary filmmaker go out on such a sour note, and I’d love for him to keep making movies, but if Twixt is really the best he can do nowadays, then it’s probably best if he just stays in his winery, squashing grapes, instead.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

*

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Yo Joe?  More like . . . don’t go!!!

Lady Jaye

Limacher Low Down: I start this review off by admitting that I may be one of the VERY few people who found enjoyment in the First G.I. Joe movie. It harkened back to my childhood, and was something I took excitement and joy in watching. I had the HIGHEST of hopes in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but unlike its predecessor, I was GREATLY disappointed. When most think of the first being the lowest the bar can be set for G.I. Joe, they will be surprised that a hole has been dug for the bar to go even lower!

G.I. Joe: Retaliation starts with the Joes becoming the elite fighting force known around the world. Cobra Commander and Destro have been locked up, and the world is a better place with the Joes watching over us. We see that Duke (Channing Tatum) is now the leader of the Joes, and his best friend, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), is second in command. The main reinforcements that help the Joes the most are Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki).

The Joes are quickly dispatched to help stop a civil unrest in Pakistan, and it is here where, as seen in the previews, the President (Jonathan Pryce) is not the man we believe him to be. Once the mission has been handled, it is then ordered that the Joes be taken out. This whole set up is fine for what it is, but it moves at such a rapid pace.  I understand why the decision was made to do this, but it just makes me scratch my head about the pace of the movie.

Then the plot line establishes the Joes as Evil, and Cobra are the ones that can protect us and save the world. This is where the movie, for the most part officially derails. Storm Shadow (Byung-Hun Lee), with the help of Firefly (Ray Stevenson) help to locate and release Cobra Commander and Destro from the location where they are being held. This scene was decent, but for the most part it just raised more questions than answers. The feeling I was left with was one of just utter confusion and just thinking what the hell is going on here? The whole scene just seems like a bunch of ideas were thrown against a wall, and the ones that seemed to stick made it into the movie.  Poor editing.

Next was my favorite part of the movie, the only part I TRULY enjoyed. Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) were training together, and given a mission. The mission is the scene, if you’ve watched any of the previews, which takes place in the mountains. There is quite a bit of action and fun that transpires throughout the scene. If there was anything that I want a memory of seeing throughout the whole movie it is that scene alone. I enjoyed this, but all good things must quickly come to an end in this movie, and the scene was over after a climactic finish.

We focus back on the Joes who are on the run from their own country, and being hunted down for the “crimes” in which they have allegedly committed. Roadblock comes up with the idea that there is only “One Man” that can help them with their situation, and that is General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis); the reason why they are called Joes. In a rather boring and tawdry scene, we are introduced to General Colton, and there isn’t much that happens. By this point, I’m so bored that I want the movie to either quickly escalate or just end. I’m quickly realizing that my worst fears are coming true.

This all leads to the climactic final battle scene, which really doesn’t offer that much for everything that has transpired. Think back to the lengthy battle scene in the first movie, then cut that down quite a bit and that is the final battle scene in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The plot line makes no sense, and even a young child would scream “WHAT?!!?” at the screen by the end.

I had a few concerns when I found out that Jon M. Chu was tabbed as the Director. The same person who directed the past 2 Step-Up movies, and directed the Justin Bieber documentary was taking on G.I. Joe? Well, unfortunately my concerns came true. G.I. Joe: Retaliation had terrible pacing, a horrible plot line, and just made me BORED watching something I had LOVED when I was growing up.

Almost everything about this movie made me wish for the end to come, and one scene doesn’t make up for what seemed to be the LONGEST 90 minutes of my LIFE! I now understand why Paramount delayed the release, not just to give it a 3D touch-up, but also possibly delay what would be a TERRIBLE box office opening in the summer. I believe if you LOVED G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, you might find some enjoyment; BUT, if you only liked it, or hated it, take my advice and AVOID the mind numbingly BAD G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Paranormal Activity 4

Monday, February 18th, 2013

*

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 2.00 out of 5)
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Enough already!

Paranormal Activity 4

The H-Bomb: I’m just going to cut right to it, here, Paranormal Activity 4 is what you get when you take a movie franchise that is fueled only by one single idea, one single gimmick, and just run it completely into the ground. It starts to feed off itself, cannibalize itself, just recycling the same old shit until it stops being a valid continuation of the original film, and just becomes a half-assed knock off, instead.

So it went with the Saw films, so it goes for Paranormal Activity. In the beginning, I was a fan, as the first film is one of the very, very few horror movies to actually scare me as an adult. It was a simple concept, a young couple videotaping their encounters with a demonic entity, who like any demonic entity, is tormenting and terrorizing them for the lulz. While the story was basic, it was also chocked full of moments that were truly unnerving, and was overall just creepy as hell. A rare example of a found footage flick that actually worked.

Then came the inevitable sequel that did essentially the same thing, only not nearly as effectively. It expanded on the back story a bit, but that aside, it was more or less an inferior repeat of the first movie. With the third film, the same exact formula was followed, and it was starting to get pretty damn tired. When I finished with Paranormal Activity 3, I figured they stretched this one concept as far as it could be stretched, and any movies after this will just be contrived rehashes of what came before.

And having now sat through all 95 minutes of Paranormal Activity 4, I can say emphatically, I was right, Goddamn it! This fourth installment, which thankfully I passed up in theaters, brings absolutely nothing new to the table, and gives us nothing we haven’t already seen. Just more things going bump in the night, more objects being moved by themselves, more possessed people acting oddly… more of the fucking same. Except this time, none of it is scary. Not in the slightest.

It starts with a recap of the earlier films, where possessed Katie Featherston kills her boyfriend, her sister’s husband, her sister, and disappears with her sister’s baby. Some six years pass, we are now in a nice, quiet Nevada suburb, where we meet our hero, an obnoxious bubble-headed blonde teenybopper, who, for no apparent reason, videotapes every damn thing that happens in her life. Recently, a single “mother” and her six-year-old “son” moved into the house across the street from her. Would I really be spoiling anything if I told you who these two really are? Anyhow, the “mother” is never around, and the “son” is… weird.

How is this little boy weird? Well, aside from looking like Damien from The Omen, he’s very quiet, he tends to suddenly appear in places, and has a habit of standing in a single spot and staring off blankly. Little Miss Teenybopper is particularly disconcerted when she’s told that the boy’s mother was injured in an accident and has to go to the hospital, and that he’s going to come stay over at her house. Soon after his arrival, the typical paranormal shit, the kind we’ve come to expect, starts happening.

Little Miss Teenybopper is convinced that this brat has “brought something into the house,” but her parents, who are your average, dense-headed horror movie parents, will hear none of it, despite chandeliers falling from ceilings and other such abnormalities. The only person who does believe her is her grinning, dumb-ass baboon of a boyfriend, and the two of them concoct a plan using all the cameras on every computer in the house (conveniently, there’s a computer in practically every room), to try and catch some supernatural shit. From there, a Paranormal Activity movie ensues…

And that, dear readers, is something I really can’t stress enough. You have seen this movie done before, and done way, way, way better. Where there was once genuine creepiness and tension, there is only boring padding, unimaginative plotting, and exceptionally bad acting (even by this series’ standards). And did I say boring? I’m sorry, what I meant to say was FUCKING BORING. Endless sequences of us looking into empty rooms, waiting for something, anything, to happen. Sadly, with the exception of the occasional jump scare, nothing really does. Now, as you know, I normally hate jump scares, but in this case, I actually welcomed them, because this time they were the only things keeping me awake. I can only imagine, if Princess Coppola ever directed a horror movie, it would be something like this… I shudder at the thought.

In all seriousness, though, Paranormal Craptivity 4 serves as undeniable proof that there is nowhere new for this series to go, nothing new to be added to it, and, aside from nefarious cash-grab motives on the part of the studio, no damn reason for any more of these movies to be made. There is certainly no reason for you to see this, or any future installments that may (and most likely will) come along. Your time would be better spent re-watching the original, because all the real scares were squeezed out of this cash cow about two movies ago, and now the time has come to put it out to pasture.

Check out the better PA titles here

Hisss

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

*

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 3.00 out of 5)
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Hisss-terically bad!

The H-Bomb:  According to ancient Indian legend, Nagin is a deadly snake goddess who holds within her body the key to immortality.  If her mate is threatened or harmed, she will hunt down and take vengeance on whoever is responsible, and will in all likelihood claim the lives of at least a few innocent bystanders along the way.  Not only is an evil American by the name of…  wait for it…  George States, fully aware of this, he is actually counting on it, as he is dying of a brain tumor and has kidnapped Nagin’s mate in hopes of drawing her out so he can get at this immortal what-have-you that’s inside of her.

Well, his plan works, as Nagin takes the form of a hot naked woman (Mallika Sherawat) and goes in search of her captive mate.  Along the way, she encounters a few uncouth individuals who would love nothing more than to rape her.  So, she is forced to teach these hooligans a lesson in manners by eating them up and puking them out.  This, predictably, attracts the attention of local police inspector Gupta (Irrfan Khan), who is understandably baffled by these crimes.  However, Gupta’s batty old mother in law, as well as some other superstitious locals, begin to suspect that it’s the work of the serpent goddess.

Will the snake woman rescue her mate from the evil George States, or will she fall into his trap?  Will Gupta the cop catch her before she can, or won’t he?  Who’s to say?  The real question is…  will the audience still be awake at the end to find out, and if so, will they care?  The answer to both: not bloody likely.

“Hisss”, shot on location in India, is the third directorial effort from my favorite nepotistic filmmaker, Jennifer Chambers Lynch.  Ms. Lynch and I have crossed paths in the past when I reviewed her hilariously horrible debut “Boxing Helena”, as well as her decent sophomore effort, “Surveillance”, which was far, far from perfect, but overall a step in the right direction.  With her latest film, she ditched Hollywood for Bollywood, and has slithered all the way back down to “Helena”‘s level of utter awfulness.

Basically, “Hisss” is a B-grade creature feature.  You would expect a filmmaker from the Lynch family gene pool to take this myth and spin it into something creepy and cool…  or at least weird, in a good way.  But no, she made a plain old monster movie, the kind that airs on the Syfy Channel during one of their snake themed weekend movie marathons.  It’s the kind of movie that’s meant to be stupid fun, except here Lynch made it extra stupid, and skipped the fun all together in favor of sheer boredom.

One thing she did manage to nail is the look of a Syfy Original movie, in that it looks spectacularly cheap.  Not cheap in a cool, indie film kind of way, but cheap in that bad, direct-to-DVD way, complete with a laughably shoddy CGI snake monster that looks like it was ripped from a mid-90’s video game.  The snakes in that Samuel L. Jackson movie were more convincing.  As for the cinematography, you may think it impossible to make such a colorful place as India look drab and dreary, but Lynch somehow manages to make it look about as vibrant as London on a gray winter day.

Setting aside that the film is about as visually appealing as a dried dog turd, and that the special effects are only special in the short bus sense of the word, there’s also the putrid script to take into account, which features maybe ten minutes worth of clunky, uninspired action, and spends the rest of its eighty-something minutes wasting our time with bad drama and unfunny attempts at quirky humor until it finally gets to its awkwardly staged, and not-even-remotely thrilling climax.

Is there anything at all that sets “Hisss” apart from other hokey creature features?  There is, actually, in that it is, to my knowledge, the first and only movie to feature a snake-on-human sex scene.  A little Hisss, Hisss, Bang, Bang, if you will.  Leave it to the daughter of David Lynch to come up with that one…  and also leave it to her to make even that boring.

As for the acting, Sherawatt isn’t half bad, considering she doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in the film.  But, given the quality of the dialogue, that probably worked in her favor.  She’s required to look sexy and dangerous, and she pulls off both.  Khan, who plays the police inspector, you may remember from “Slumdog Millionaire”, in which he played…  a police inspector.  Way to cast against type there, Jennifer!  Anyway, he does okay, but he was better in “Slumdog”.

As the evil American George States (wow, really Jenn, really?), Jeff Doucette is over-the-top and cringingly terrible, but I blame that more on the writing than him.  In a well written script, he would have been a good man forced to do bad things out of desperation.  But, that would have required a little more thought than Lynch was willing to put into it, so instead he’s just a one note mustache twirler who is all dastardly and villainous…  just because he is

Is there anything positive that can be said about “Hisss”?  Well, the snake-woman makeup effects by Robert Kurtzman are pretty impressive, I’ll give it that.  Unfortunately, that very faint praise is all the praise I have, because bottom line, “Hisss” is pisss poor.  It truly sucksss asss, and while it was apparently taken away from Ms. Lynch and re-cut by others, it still bears her name, and I can’t see how a good film could ever be made from the footage I saw, so she is still to blame for it being the piece of ssshit that it is.

However, if you do feel inexplicably compelled to see “Hisss”, it is currently available on Netflix Instant Play.  But seriously, why would you, when there are so many more productive things for you to do with your time…  like pulling the wings off a fly, or checking your lawn for severed ears, or about a million other things.

Passion Play

Monday, June 20th, 2011

*

Not much passion to be found here.

The H-Bomb: Nate (Mickey Rourke), a down and out, sad sack musician, narrowly escapes a mob hit and wanders through the desert until he comes upon a circus populated by the typical assortment of freaks and weirdos. It’s there that he meets Lily (Megan Fox), a beautiful girl with wings… yes, actual wings that she was born with. Nate thinks she’s an angel, but Lily insists that she’s merely a “bird woman.” Nevertheless, Nate wants to take her away from her life as a freak show exhibit. And after a run-in with Sam (Rhys Ifans), the carnival barker who also happens to be Lily’s adoptive father, the two of them hit the road together.

In an effort to make amends with Happy (Bill Murray, doing his best impersonation of a somnambulist), the gangster who wants him dead, Nate offers to give him the bird girl in exchange for Happy sparing his life. After taking one look at her, Happy is enchanted and accepts. However, Nate has fallen in love with Lily, and she has developed feelings for him, and shit gets complicated… sort of. If you want to find out more, you’ll have to watch the movie. But, if you follow my advice, you will not only NOT watch this movie, you will stay as far away from this art house abortion as humanly fucking  possible.

Now I’m gonna do my best to just get straight to the point and not take that much time with this one, because I’m already very angry at myself for wasting as much time as I did just watching it. Someone once said, when a mainstream film is bad, it’s usually just bad. But when an offbeat, indie film is bad, it can turn out to be an atrocious, unwatchable piece of shit, and that is very much the case with “Passion Play”. Notorious for flopping hard at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, this movie stinks worse than a cow pie rotting in the afternoon sun on a hot summer day. Not even the fuckin’ flies want to go near this thing!

This flick is “indie” in the absolute worst sense of the word. It’s weird for the sake of being weird. The characters are quirky yet shallow, unappealing, and completely uninteresting. I truly did not give a flying frog’s dick about anyone in here. It acts like it has something to say, yet says nothing at all. And, for the most part, it’s horribly paced and goes nowhere… slowly.

If I were to describe this flick to our esteemed editor Rick Swift, I would say it’s kind of like “Crazy Heart”, except the lead character is an even bigger loser, it’s far more absurdly pretentious, and it’s about a thousand times crappier than he remembers that movie being [Read Swift’s take on Crazy Heart, here].  It’s basically a love story between two lost outcasts who find each other. This most certainly is not a new concept, but it could have been done well, had writer/director Mitch Glazer (some big shot screenwriter, I‘m told) bothered to make either lead, or their story, even remotely interesting.

But he didn’t. I couldn’t have cared less if Nate lived or died. I gave not a shit if Lily ended up a permanent slave of Happy the gangster, and I really was entirely indifferent as to whether or not the two of them got together in the end. Even in instances that were meant to be magical or whimsical, like when the wind blows through Lily’s wings and she can fly for a moment, I was neither touched nor moved. I was just thinking, “Yeah, whatever, is this shit almost over? No? Goddamn it!”

Rourke’s been on a hot streak these last few years, but this time he left me cold. Looking as slovenly and ugly as ever, he tries his best to make us feel for Nate, but the character is just too damn dull to be either pathetic or sympathetic, no matter how often he gets on his knees and cries. Fox, on the other hand, provides some of the few bright spots in this otherwise dreary affair. It’s not just that she appears nude (albeit breasts covered), it’s that she actually gives the best performance in the film. I’m convinced she can be a competent actress, after all, and she gives Lily an innocent, child-like quality that almost made me care about her. As for Bill Murray… he showed up… he said his lines… and I’m convinced he was doped up on Valium the entire time. It’s not even worth mentioning that he makes for an even less intimidating gangster than Michael Keaton in “Johnny Dangerously”.

Okay, I’ve really devoted more words to this mound of diarrhea dung than I ever meant to, so I’ll wrap up. “Passion Play” is a love story with zero passion and a parable without a point. It’s a dismal cinematic train wreck that, unlike “The Room” or “Birdemic”, doesn’t even rise to the level of funny-bad, it’s just bad-bad (though there are some green screen shots that are so horrible they give “Birdemic” a run for its money). It is very bad-bad, and, as stated, pretentious as hell to boot. Do not even rent it out of morbid curiosity. Do not even take it if somebody tries to give it to you as a gift. For your own sake, give “Passion Play” a pass.

Little Fockers (Dueling Reviews)

Friday, January 7th, 2011

From time to time, rarely at iRATEfilms, we get such divergent opinions of the same film that it perplexes me as an editor.  Two critics that don’t always see eye to eye might not always agree on a film’s delivery, but Little Fockers stands out as Sergio simply loved it and Limacher loathed it!  Click the image below to be taken to each review, then tell me, the hapless master-of-puppets, who got it right and who got it wrong.  -Swift

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My Soul to Take

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

*

You can keep it, Wes!


===Click here for more images===

The H-Bomb: One night in the quiet town of Riverton, a serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper is mortally wounded by police. While en route to the hospital, the Ripper comes to and attacks the paramedics, causing the ambulance to crash and burn. The Ripper’s bloody stretcher is found next to  the river… but he isn’t. Whether or not the Ripper is dead remains a mystery, but what is known is that on that same night, seven children were born in Riverton.

It’s learned that the Ripper was a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder… seven different personalities to be exact, one of which was the killer. That turns out to be very convenient since there were seven children born that night, thus starting the local legend that each child inherited a soul of one of the different personalities.

Sixteen years later, the seven kids born on that most unholy of nights, gather by the river where the Ripper disappeared in order to “kill him.” That is, to destroy some puppet likeness of him out of the superstitious belief that it will keep him from coming back. These seven kids represent the whole spectrum of movie teenage stereotypes: we have jock/bully kid, bitchy popular girl kid, Bible thumping religious girl kid, geeky white kid, geeky Asian kid, geeky black kid, and the quiet one, Bug (Max Thieriot).

Now Bug, as we come to find out, is the special one of the group. He suffers from migraines, has strange visions and premonitions, seems to be at times psychically linked to the others, and will even take on their mannerisms. This year, it’s Bug’s turn to “kill” the Ripper, only before he can destroy the puppet, the cops break up the party.

The next day at school, Bug seems to be acting especially squirrely, as other members of the Riverton seven start to drop like flies. Could the Ripper still be alive? Or has his soul inhabited one of the kids? Or, a better question still… who gives a shit?

That needlessly convoluted set up is only the beginning of writer/director Wes Craven’s first feature film since 2005’s “Red Eye”. Craven, like other filmmakers who work mainly within the horror genre, has been hit-or-miss throughout his career. When he hits, he blows the bull’s eye right out of the fucking target (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “New Nightmare”, “Scream”). When he misses, he tends to range from mediocre (“Cursed”), to unbearably dreadful (“The Hills Have Eyes, Part 2”).

Sadly, “My Soul to Keep”, which was touted as the comeback for this “Master of Horror,” is a miss. A big one. An epic fail. A crushing disappointment. A complete misfire. A movie so unfathomably bad that within the first fifteen minutes the viewer will realize exactly why the studio hid this sucktacular suckfest from the critics for as long as they could. [Editor’s note – that would explain why we didn’t get an invite]  This film is like an hour and forty minutes of nails dragging on a chalkboard, it is that fucking miserable.

It’s so horrendous I was tempted to do something I’ve never done in my entire movie going life… walk out on it. That’s right, that’s how bad this thing blows. But, the reviewer in me prevailed, and I stuck it out, just to see if it got any better… it didn’t.

Thing of it is, this movie is sunk entirely by one element, Craven’s script. It is just mind bogglingly terrible on every conceivable level. As I mentioned earlier, the characters are so clichéd they’re cartoonish. That wouldn’t be so bad, except for the fact that Craven wants us to take this shit seriously. The dialogue is so wretched it’s absolutely embarrassing to listen to. (“Wake up and smell the Starbucks.”- yeah, someone actually says that) It’s as if Craven is trying to write like his old “Scream” scribe, Kevin Williamson. His attempts at writing witty teen banter are just pathetic beyond all comprehension.

The plot is choppy, has absolutely no flow, and the suspense and thrills are pretty much non-existent. Not to mention Craven stuffs his story with copious amounts of pointless filler. Like an over-the-top (and utterly ridiculous) scene set in a science class where Bug gives a presentation about the California Condor. The Condor is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for the collecting and protection of souls, but it’s all just pointless, philosophical gibberish.

Craven then bores us with a subplot about High School student hierarchy politics where Bug and a friend spy on a group of bitchy popular girls (the leader of which is some obnoxious Rose McGowan clone). There is, admittedly, some information learned during this scene, but it’s clunky and strange and goes on way too long. In fact, most of the exposition in this film is delivered in forced, awkward ways, like the scene where Bug’s sister, who’s smaller than him, beats the living shit out of him(???), before telling him a secret about his past.

The scenes in which the killer stalks and takes out his victims are quick and curiously ineffective, and when we finally do get to the bloody climax, it’s filled with more exposition than thrills. The characters spend minutes just talking to each other instead of fighting and slashing each other to ribbons.

Also, the whole idea of Bug being psychic is ultimately rendered pointless because Craven never develops it in any kind of meaningful way. Like other plot strands, it just kind of hangs there.

The film is being shown in 3-D, though it was not shot that way, and it shows because it’s not noticeable and does nothing to add to the excitement of this weirdly un-exciting experience. That, ultimately, is the movie’s main problem, it is just plain fucking boring! Damn it to Hell, I expected better from you, Wes!

Craven had an interesting idea, but he botched completely with his sub-par, at times incoherent, screenplay. This is a real let down for me. “Life as We Know It” should not have been the better film to come out this weekend. Here’s hoping Craven has better luck with “Scream 4”.

A Nightmare on Elm Street – 2010

Friday, April 30th, 2010

*

Disappointing!

***click the image above for more photos***

Freddy Krueger has sliced and diced his way across Elm Street and the Dreamscape enough times to ingrain himself in pop culture, possibly forever. Despite this, it seems like many teens today are not actually familiar with his work. This was most likely the reason “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was remade. Unfortunately, director Samuel Bayer, known for his music videos, has created a tame version of the original fright flick that is easily the weakest film in the Elm Street franchise. Sorry “Final Nightmare,” there’s a new ‘champ’ in town.

If you don’t already know what the film is about, it involves a group of teenagers (Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy) who are stalked in their dreams by a horribly burned gerbil of a man wielding finger-knives and a Christmas sweater. Originally played by Robert Englund, Krueger was a sharp-tongued maniac with a playful sense of violence. Under the helm of Jackie Earle Haley, however, the remade killer lacks everything that made Krueger a fun and interesting villain. What’s worse is that he’s not scary in the slightest. Without all the one-liners Krueger was famous for, this film’s monster loses much of its insanity and reverts instead to a mopey caricature, lashing out at kids who can’t put up a real fight.

Most people probably won’t consider slashers or the slasher genre in general to be fun and playful, but they should. After all, they’re about teens running around, partying, having sex, making bad decisions, and then dying because of it all. These films are funny, sometimes stupid, and always gory. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is none of these things. From beginning to end, it’s all one big sob story you really don’t care to listen to. There is no emotion to connect with and none of the subversive elements that made the original series get under your skin. This is bare-bones Elm Street if there ever was one, stripped of everything, even scares.

Speaking of the film’s fright factor, there really isn’t one. Recycled moments from the original film are thrown out there, though they never last as long as they should. One scene does do its predecessor justice, and could have possibly set the scene for a great and gruesome movie, but in the end it stands alone.

Though the film isn’t scary, it might make you jump from sheer volume. All the pop-up scares are accompanied by excessively loud noises that force you to cringe. It is effective, at first, but quickly gets annoying. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, considering the fact that Michael Bay is one of the producers. And no, I don’t think that was below the belt.

This new version does prove effective in one sense, it reminds us how the classic stands on its own and needs no modern re-hashing.  Even Hollywood tricks and big budgets aren’t able to spin the story in a fresh, new way. This is unfortunate, and one can only hope that the remake won’t ruin the series for anyone unlucky enough to have it as an introduction to Freddy’s fucked up world.