Archive for the '3' Category

The Iceman

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 3.50 out of 5)
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He cometh . . .

The Iceman

The H-Bomb: A few years back, a filmmaker friend of mine showed me an HBO documentary about Richard Kuklinski, who worked for nearly 20 years as a hit man for the mob. What made Kuklinski so unique, aside from his versatile methods of killing, and the way he disposed of his victims’ bodies, was that during his entire career as a contract killer, he had a family that had not the slightest idea what he did for a living. This whole set up would seem way too far-fetched if it wasn’t true… however, it was.

What I found most chilling about Kuklinski, who was interviewed in prison for the documentary, was how casual and dispassionate he was when recounting his crimes. He would tell a story about killing his victims in the same way that anyone would tell any old anecdote. He was a man with no conscious, no soul, and when he passed away in prison back in 2006, the world lost nothing of value. The impossible challenge facing co-writer/director Ariel Vromen in making this feature film version of Kuklinski’s life, is creating a character who is equally as frightening as the real man. Did he? No, however, he and his lead actor, the ever formidable Michael Shannon, come just about as close as anyone could have.

Starting in the mid-1960’s, The Iceman covers, in a rather straightforward manner, Kuklinski’s career as a professional killer. From how he goes from making and selling copies of porno movies, to being recruited by gangster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta, playing the same kind of big mouthed hood he’s been playing since Goodfellas) as an assassin, after he witnesses a flash of Kuklinski’s violent side after one of his thugs tries to get rough with him. In his new role as a hit man, Kuklinski has found his true calling. He is efficient, he is ruthless, he is cold as ice.

Kuklinski is also successful at keeping his profession a secret from his nice wife, Deborah, and his two lovely daughters, who think that he works as a currency exchange broker. Living an ideal life in an ideal suburban home, they are blissfully ignorant when it comes to how daddy puts food on the table. Eventually, Kuklinski meets a fellow hit man, Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans), who conducts business out of an ice cream truck. Mr. Freezy teaches Richard some new and creative methods with which to take out his targets, such as cyanide, and a new way of disposing of bodies. A method that involves the ice cream truck, and that earns Richard Kuklinski his infamous moniker, The Iceman.

Our two killers fall into a cozy arrangement in which Freezy sets up the hits, and Kuklinski carries them out. Pretty simple. But what would happen if Kuklinski were to have a falling out with Roy the gangster, and Roy the gangster in turn made a threat towards his wife and children? Even worse, what if the cops discovered a partially frozen corpsical, thus catching on to the Iceman’s disposal methods? Kuklinski’s neatly ordered world may just start to fall apart around him…

As I stated earlier, Michael Shannon does as good a job bringing this unabashed sociopath to life as anyone could. In fact, he does better than good… much better. For most of his career, he’s played characters who fall outside of what we would consider normal, and here, he delivers a performance that could go down as one of the all time greats. He completely inhabits Richard Kuklinski and brings every facet of the man, from the kind family man, to the stone cold killer, so vividly, that he almost, not quite, but almost made me forget about the real Iceman. That calm yet intense stare that he would use on his unsuspecting prey, and his sudden switches between pure tranquility and violent rage were especially unnerving.

In case I haven’t made it clear, Shannon is nothing short of brilliant in the role, no question, and he’s surrounded by a first rate ensemble, including Ryder and his dutiful wife, who begins to suspect that her husband is not what he seems, and Evans, who is often funny in his solid supporting turn as a rather mellow assassin. Even James Franco makes a lasting impression in his few minutes in which he plays a sleazy pornographer who the Iceman is tasked with dispatching, as does David Schwimmer, who is surprisingly good as a low level mafia flunky.

If nothing else, The Iceman has a pitch perfect cast. Unfortunately, that cast is much better than the film itself, which is merely all right. Director Vromen captures the look of the 60’s and 70’s to a T, and really nails the seediness of the underworld from the era. He depicts the violence with a brutal, unflinching eye, and he keeps the film clipping along at a decent pace, considering the amount of ground he has to cover, but, at the end of the day, I simply was not as involved with the story as I knew I should have been. The whole thing is shot in a pseudo-documentary style, with a certain cold, dry sense of detachment, and it was that distance that kept me from being fully caught up in the characters and immersed with what was happening on screen. It’s difficult to put my finger on it, but there was just something missing… some sense of emotional involvement that would have made this good movie great.

But, what The Iceman does not lack is an exceptionally strong central performance. It really is a shame the overall film isn’t better, because Shannon absolutely kills it with a true award caliber showing, and it is his uber-disturbing performance that makes The Iceman a must see. Ever since World Trade Center back in 2006, Shannon has proven himself to be an actor worth paying attention to, and here, with this sick, true life character, he has delivered a performance that I can easily, with all the confidence in the world, say is his best.

Riddick

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 3.00 out of 5)
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Riddick

After you remove the knife from your back, wouldn’t you want to find the owner and return their property to them? In September 2013, that’s exactly what Riddick wants to do, right after he finds a ride.

Directing this 119 minute action/sci-fi/thriller is David Twohy.

The cast trying to survive the night is: Vin Diesel as Riddick, Matt Noble as Boss Johns, Jordi Molla as Santana, Katee Sackhoff as Dahl, Dave Bautista as Diaz, Nolan Gerard Funk as Luna, Karl Urban as Vaakov, Conrad Pla as Vargas and Bokeem Woodbine as Moss.

Once the leader of the Necromongers, is now left for dead on a dangerous planet. Needing a ride, Riddick, activates an emergency beacon, that shows who is calling for help. This brings one ship looking to collect his bounty and another looking for information that only Riddick can give. Looking to get back to his home planet Furya, and to handout some revenge. With all that he doesn’t really have time to deal with the people on the ships, so he’ll just have to take care of them…Riddidck style.

I enjoyed the previous movies, just as I did this one. Yet, after such the killer story-line that was in The Chronicles of Ridick, this one fell short. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a cool movie and Riddick, still a badass. It just felt like a repeat of Pitch Black, with the same really good special effects. Cast did a great job and it’s a movie that I enjoyed watching. It just wasn’t the “awesome” movie I’d been waiting impatiently to see. In the end, I waited to see a “good” movie with a recycled story-line. That yet again, has a dangerous planet and a vast number of dangerous creatures, that our resident escapee must overcome. Either way, we’re still talking about Riddick, so catch the flick and enjoy his awesomeness as I did.

Turbo

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

***

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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Turbo

We all have dreams we want to accomplish, right? In July 2013, Theo had a dream, but he was gonna have to move fast to pull it off!

Directing this 96 minute animation/adventure/comedy is David Soren.

Some of the talented voices you’ll hear are: Ryan Reynolds as Theo/Turbo, Paul Giamatti as Chet, Samuel L. Jackson as Whiplash, Snoop Dogg as Smoove Move, Maya Rudolph as Burn, Ben Schwartz as Skid Mark, Michael Bell as White Shadow, Michael Pena as Tito, Luis Guzman as Angelo, Michelle Rodriguez as Paz, Ken Jeong as Kim-Ly and Bill Hader as Guy Gagne.

Theo was a little snail with big dreams of winning the Indy 500. After a freak accident, Theo was left… turbo charged! Unfortunately, his brother Chet doesn’t like the new Theo, and wants him to hide his new found ability and just be a normal slow-mo snail.Yet, being different is what opens the door of possibilities to make a dream of Theo’s come true. Now, with the help of his new snail and human friends, Turbo just might have a shot at getting to the Indy 500. Racers to the starting line…

The animation was really nice looking, but I’m not a big fan of the style. Like the way the people look, body wise. Again, it was still clean looking and smooth. I thought the story was fun with a good playthrough. It’s a turbo charged snail, burning rubber at 200+ mph, with his own neon ground effects. You can’t help but laugh! For a high speed movie, it does drag a bit here and there. Overall, it’s a flick the family can enjoy.

It may not be as cool as the Indy 500 trophy, but Turbo does earn 3 stars.

The Lords of Salem

Monday, May 27th, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 2.50 out of 5)
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Zombie dares the Devil…

Lords of Salem

The H-Bomb: Late one night in Salem, Massachusetts, local radio DJ, Heidi LaRoc (Sheri Moon Zombie), receives a strange package containing an old school vinyl record from a band calling themselves “The Lords.” When Heidi puts the record on, a bizarre instrumental piece plays, one that seems to have a hypnotizing effect on her. While in these trance-like states, Heidi has visions of naked women in 1600’s Salem performing some kind of Satanic ritual.

In the following days, things get worse for Heidi as her visions of Salem’s past intensify and become more vivid, sinister figures with stone faces appear to be stalking her, and she dreams of being assailed by a demonic munchkin. Then there’s her odd, elusive new neighbor renting the apartment at the end of the hall . . . a new neighbor that her landlord (Judy Geeson) insists doesn’t exist. There is definitely something strange going down in the town of Salem, and Heidi seems to be right at the center of it . . . but why her? And who, or what, are the Lords behind this creepy record?

Rob Zombie has always interested me as a filmmaker, even if I haven’t exactly loved the bulk of his movies. His debut, House of 1000 Corpses, is a crazed, candy colored acid trip of a movie that has, I’ll admit, grown on me, but initially I kind of hated it. Its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, is a grim, gritty, and genuinely intense picture that, much to my surprise, I kind of loved. His two Halloween flicks I didn’t love or hate. They had some aspects I liked, but overall, Zombie’s style just didn’t jive well with that particular series.

Now he brings us his fifth feature (not counting that animated abortion, The Haunted World of El Super Beasto), The Lords of Salem, and this time, he has switched his style completely. While his previous films were in-your-face slasher flicks caked in blood and grime, The Lords of Salem is a relatively low key Satanic thriller that’s very much (perhaps a bit too much) in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby. A slow burner that favors atmospheric creepiness over straight up shocks, it’s a Rob Zombie film unlike any we’ve ever seen.

This stylistic departure has drawn very mixed reviews, particularly from gore nuts who only wanted another Devil’s Rejects, but instead got something considerably more restrained and sophisticated. Some have praised Zombie for taking a stab at something new, others were disappointed by the lack of carnage. Me personally, after Halloween II, I was tired of seeing the same old trashy splatter flick from him, and was ready to write him off as a one trick pony. Then he went and did this, and while The Lords of Salem is not without its problems, it is overall a spooky little freak fest that shows that Mr. Zombie does have range as a director, after all.

Dispensing with his typical hand held shaky cam look, Zombie employs a more classic visual style, consisting of deliberately composed frames and slow, creeping tracking shots. Often accompanied by a David Lynch-like sound design, the nightmarish images that Zombie creates achieve a truly unnerving effect. And here, the surreal imagery actually works in the context of the film, unlike in Halloween II, where the dream sequences felt completely out of place and came off as laughably pretentious. This time, they effectively convey Heidi’s descent into madness over the course of the story.

That brings me to something I would be remiss not to mention, the lead performance by Sheri Moon Zombie. A lot of reviewers out there in Internetland have given her crap, not only for this movie, but for all of them. They say she’s a shitty actress, that if she wasn’t married to Rob Zombie, she wouldn’t have a career, blah, blah, blah. I say bullshit. She’s been good in all of Zombie’s films, especially as the batshit bonkers Baby from Corpses and Rejects, and here, she really outdoes herself and demonstrates that she has real chops as an actress. Never mind that the whole movie falls on her shoulders and she has to carry it, Heidi is an emotionally complex character who, as stated, is slowly driven insane. It takes a real actress to pull off this role, and Moon Zombie does exactly that, delivering a knockout performance. So shut the fuck up, haters, you know nothing of what you speak.

There is another performance; however, that I didn’t feel was quite up to snuff, and that came from, surprisingly enough, veteran actor Bruce Davison, who plays a local writer/provider of exposition. I’m not sure if it’s his fault, or the script’s, or a combination of the two, but he just isn’t very good here. His line deliveries are awkward, his high pitched accent is weird, everything about him is just off. The part where he shouts “Fuck me!” after discovering something about Heidi’s past is an embarrassing display of overacting that would should make William Shatner cringe.

And while I’m on the topic of things I didn’t like, I should point out a few other aspects of the film that just don’t quite work, a key one being Zombie’s screenplay. The man has grown into a solid director, but writing wise, he still has a ways to go. It’s not that the script for The Lords of Salem is bad, it’s just uneven. The Black Mass sequences, for example, feature even more manic overacting, as well as uber-cheesy dialogue like, “In the name of our dark lord, Satan!” They simply come off as unconvincing and incredibly hokey. Another bit that doesn’t work is Heidi’s encounter with an evil, lecherous priest. Like the Satanic ritual scenes, it’s played so wildly over-the-top it’s ridiculous. Besides, isn’t the whole sexual predator priest thing a tad trite by this point?

All of these petty gripes, however, are exactly that, petty gripes. My main issue with The Lords of Salem, what really drags it down and keeps it from being a great horror film, as it had the potential to be, is the story itself. I’ve already said that it’s too close to Rosemary’s Baby, and it is, to a point where it’s ultimately predictable, and just plain unoriginal. It’s such a shame, too, as Zombie really had me going for a while there, he just should have thought of a different direction to take the film, instead of heading down an already well traveled road.

That being said, The Lords of Salem is still quite good. Zombie switched things up and gave us something understated, unsettling, and creepy in a way that just crawls under your skin and stays there. It’s all the more impressive in that Zombie was working completely outside of his comfort zone on this one. He has stated that he will never make another horror film after this. I imagine this decision was made following the film’s sadly lukewarm reception, which is too bad, since this movie demonstrated that he has matured as a filmmaker, and there’s no telling what twisted treats he had in store for us had this one panned out. I can only hope that, someday, he will change his mind.

The Hangover Part III

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

HOIIIREVIEW
Click the image for some great behind the scenes shots!

Check Out Both Reviews!

Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it three stars and Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four!

HOIIIADHOIIIMM

Renoir

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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Renoir

Swift shot: Renoir has never fascinated me.  Impressionism as a rule is not my personal go-to when I enjoy art.  This was a challenge for me to let go of my apathy and immerse myself into a foreign film about an artistic style I don’t favor. For these types of films I only ask one thing, keep me interested, and Renoir did manage to do that.  But, the Renoir I was most interested in, was not Le Patron . . . rather his son, the solider.  Go figure.

Whenever delving into a biopic, I want to learn something new.  I want to make sure I leave after seeing the film a little wiser or more cultured.  For that reason, I give Renoir credit.  But, I learned very little about Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), and with the nuanced story-telling, I learned very little about Jean Renoir (Vincent Rottiers), or even Andree Heuschling (Christa Theret) for that matter.  But, what I did learn from watching Renoir is why his art was devoid of negativity and that his colors were meant to blend into an almost wispy blur of incoherence.  “The colors have to fuck,” as he puts it in the film.  And he makes a solid point that the world has enough black in it, as in darkness, so he wanted to leave the world with something beautiful.  I guess even non-enthusiastic fans would be hard pressed to say his art isn’t classically “beautiful” compared to the horrors of the world.

Alas, unlike what I was hoping, this is not the life story of Renoir, nor is it really the life story of anyone, it is a brief chapter of a family surrounded by death, living in a fantasia of color and purity . . . but there wasn’t enough.  It felt like the whole thing was rushed, which, after you see it’s plodding pace you may find yourself scratching your head on that statement.  But, what I mean is what was missing from Renoir was all the lines.  In his own words, Renoir explains it brilliantly, “It’s not about lines, it’s about the colors.”  Indeed, the colors and the chapters blend together to wash away characters that I might have wanted to know more about, if there were any real lines.

Renoir, directed by  Gilles Bourdos is about the famous artist’s last years, living and still painting in the French Riviera.   Set in 1915, Renoir uses the entrance of ingenue Andree as a new model to the Patron.

RENOIR will be opening FRIDAY at the Miami Dade College Tower Theater and the Living Room Cinema (Boca Raton)

Renoir is what you would expect of a French film about an artist surrounded by young, beautiful, naked women . . . it is about passion and love and sacrifice, but you will need to endure a lot of creative artistic cinematography to enjoy the film.  Some of the characters were ennuyeux, just a nuisance to the story really, and others should have been developed with more life.

Still, Renoir deserves special praise for balancing, albeit not flawlessly, an artist’s pain and fear as he tries to capture the last bright sunrises life has to offer before his canvass is torn.  And, if nothing else, watching it definitely earned me some cultural cool points.  There is nudity aplenty in this film, so be warned if that sort of thing offends you.  But, maybe you could lighten up a bit!  Impressionist students will get that joke!

The Place Beyond the Pines

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.

PlaceBeyondthePines

A story in three acts, The Place Beyond the Pines stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes.  I never did learn from the movie what the title refers to, but I found out via IMDb that the place beyond the pines refers to the name of the city of Schenectady, which is where the movie took place and also was filmed.

Act One involves Luke (Ryan Gosling), a stunt motorcycle rider who works for a traveling circus.  While performing in Schenectady, he runs into Romina (Eva Mendes), a sometimes lover of his.  When Luke discovers Romina has a baby boy named Jason and that Jason is HIS son, he decides he wants to be a part of his son’s life.  He immediately quits the carnival to stay in town to be near his son.  Now, what happens next is kind of unbelievable, but it’s a movie so I went with it.  While riding his motorcycle through the forest, Luke meets Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a trailer to live in and a job fixing cars at his shop.  I’m pretty sure nothing like that would happen so fast in real life, but this is movie land so I guess it works.

Now that Luke lives near Romina and Jason, he wants to spend as much time as possible with his son.  Some scenes were pretty heartbreaking, such as when Luke goes to watch his son get baptized and Romina and her boyfriend are standing up there holding the baby instead of Luke, or when Luke and Romina take Jason for his first ice cream because Luke wants his son to remember him whenever he has ice cream.  Some fathers just don’t get to spend enough time with their sons, and that’s not right.

Anyway, since he has no job, Luke decides to rob banks to get money to support Romina and their son.   Using his motorcycle to get away from the robberies, he is able to get away with it a few times.  Until one day, his getaway doesn’t quite go as planned.  Enter Avery (Bradley Cooper), a cop who is summoned to the house where Luke has taken cover.  I won’t spoil exactly what happens next, but it’s not good.

Next comes Act Two.  This focuses on Avery as he returns to work after a work-related injury.  Avery and his wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) have a baby boy, AJ.  When he returns to work he is on light duty, which includes being in charge of the evidence room.  Here he finds out that some of his fellow cops aren’t exactly on the good side of the law.  As he struggles to deal with the guilt of shooting a suspect, he also has to deal with the issue of his crooked cop buddies and his crumbling marriage.

Finally we arrive at Act Three.  It is fifteen years after the end of Act Two.  Avery is running for Congress.  Avery and Jennifer are divorced.  AJ wants to live with his father in Schenectady, and he is enrolled in the high school there.  AJ is a drug-addicted, partying waste.  While at his new school he meets a fellow student, Jason.  They become fast friends and end up getting into trouble for possession of drugs. Avery tells AJ to stay away from Jason, but AJ won’t leave Jason alone (not in a homosexual way, just in a buddy kind of way).   I can’t really say much more about this without spoiling anything so I’ll leave it at that.

One word I can use to describe The Place Beyond the Pines is raw.  These characters did NOT look glamorous.  They looked weary and somewhat wrecked.   Director Derek Cianfrance seemed to favor tight, close shots of the actors throughout the movie and there was no escaping their tired eyes.  I also noticed another camera technique, which was following behind Luke as he walked from his trailer to the tent where he performed his motorcycle stunts.  It was strange yet it worked, because you felt like you were there at the carnival with him, although I did think “gosh I hope the whole movie isn’t filmed this way” (it wasn’t).

Overall I thought it was a good story, but it would have kept my interest if it was shorter.

42

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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A great story, but merely a good movie.

42

The H-Bomb: In post-war 1940’s America, fascism has been defeated overseas, but here at home, segregation still exists in practically every facet of society; in schools, buses, restaurants, restrooms, and professional sports. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) feels that it’s time to break down that racial barrier by recruiting an African American player onto his team (though he admits it’s as much a financial decision as it is a social statement). After an extensive search, Rickey settles on a 26-year-old prodigy out of California named Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman).

This Robinson kid soon proves to be quite gifted, as he makes stealing bases look easy, and can hit a home run like it nobody’s business. He clearly has the potential to be a great sports star, there’s just one problem… his skin color. He is the first African American to ever play in the Major Leagues, and given that this is the 40’s, not everyone is a fan. Despite being clearly talented, Robinson encounters, and is forced to deal with, bigotry at pretty much every turn. It’s something that could derail his promising career, especially if he loses his cool in public. So, the question is, will he be able to suck it up, put all the taunts and torments out of mind and just play the game?

As I said a long, long time ago in my review for The Blind Side, I’m not a sports fan. However, I do tend to enjoy sports movies, because they usually have the makings for good drama: a hero, typically an underdog, has to struggle against all odds, in order to achieve an ultimate goal, which in a sports film usually means winning the big game/race/fight, or what have you. That is the formula for most sports films, and it’s the one that 42 follows to the letter.

For Jackie Robinson, the hurdle he had to pass didn’t have to do with the game of baseball, so much as his ability to play the game while contending with small minded racism that seems to come from all directions; from booing crowds (there’s a chilling moment where a young boy starts shouting the N-word at Jackie after listening to his father do it), umpires, players from opposing teams, and even his own teammates.

One of the worst occurrences happens early on; Robinson is playing for the Montreal Royals in Florida, when some shit-kicking hillbilly cop walks up to him after scoring a run, and orders him to get off the field, or else. Another instance, one that personally brought my piss to a boil, is when Robinson steps up to bat in Philadelphia, and is forced to listen to an endless barrage of cruel taunts from Phillies Manager, Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk, who plays a true dick, and does it a little too well).

At that point, I would’ve had no problem with Robinson going over to the guy and caving his face in with his bat, which he clearly wants to, but of course doesn’t, because good old Rickey taught him better than that. He taught Jackie to turn the other cheek, that the best way to show up his unenlightened naysayers up is by performing on the field. And that Jackie does, by taking the Dodgers all the way to the Pennant… don’t think I’m spoiling anything there, folks.

As an indictment on racism, and showing younger audiences just how bad things really used to be, 42 pushes all the right buttons, hits all the right notes, and works nicely. As a sports drama, and a biopic of one of the most important men to ever play the game of baseball, it just doesn’t quite make the cut. This is mainly because Robinson, as a central character, is woefully underwritten. Boseman is stellar in the role, but aside from a few moments of warmth with his wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie), and one crucial scene where he has a private emotional breakdown, he comes off as incredibly stoic and cold, to the point where he seems a little off putting.

I know it was a conscious decision for Robinson to behave that way in public, but we never get enough of a peek behind the curtain to get a sense of who he really was, and consequently, I never got as caught up in his story, nor did I care about him, nearly as much as I knew I was supposed to. I lay the blame for this at the feet of writer/director Brian Helgeland (screenwriter of L.A. Confidential and Mystic River), who does a masterful job of recreating the period. The ball parks, the locker rooms, and the back offices all look and feel authentic, it’s just a shame Helgeland decided to treat Robinson as a symbol instead of a character.

Because of that, the majority of the dramatically juicy bits go to the cigar chomping Rickey, who is played by Ford with gravitas and gusto. Unless I’m forgetting something, this is the first time in Ford’s career where he truly inhabits and disappears inside of a character. I didn’t even recognize him when he first appeared on screen, then, after some time, I forgot that I was even watching him. I would go so far as to call his performance Oscar worthy, even if he does overplay his hand at times by hamming it up a little too much. It also seemed a tad silly that he always had some wiser-than-thou speech prepared whenever someone came to him with a problem, but again, that’s Helgeland’s doing.

With 42’s faults aside, it is a solidly entertaining film that tells a remarkable, and important, “true” story (embellishments were made, I’m sure) that deserves to be seen, particularly by young people, who only seem to get their history from the movies these days, anyway (if Scary Movie 5 out performs this at the Box Office, I will lose all hope for humanity). Yes, it could have been better, and perhaps less conventional, but still, it’s uplifting, inspirational, and had me leaving the theater with a smile on my face.

Spring Breakers

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.00 out of 5)
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“Spring break forever, bitches!”

Spring Breakers

The H-Bomb: Four college friends decide to do what no college student has ever done before; head down to Florida for Spring Break. Three of them (Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) are total wild chicks who are into boozing, smoking dope, and shoving various powdered substances up their noses. The fourth one, Faith (Selena Gomez), is a goody-goody two shoes who’s into prayer groups and is not at all a party girl. Why she’s BFFs with these other chicks is anybody’s guess.

Anyhow, the four of them have been planning and saving for several months for this trip, and much to their dismay, when they pool their savings together, they only have around $300. So the girls, minus Faith, go about procuring additional funds, with the help of a couple of spray painted squirt guns and some ski masks… that’s all I’ll say about that.

So, with said additional funds raised, the bikini-clad foursome finally hits the sunshine state, where they ride motor scooters, dance on the beach, drink, smoke (not cigarettes), and play cocktease with some douche bag jocks. Then one night, they all party just a little too hard, and they end up in jail, where they’ll have to spend two whole days if they can’t pay the fine. Now, our fab four are in a real bind; they have to either spend the rest of their Spring Break behind bars, which would be like such a bummer, or call their parentals for bail money, which would so totally suck, as well.

Fortunately, the young lovelies are spared from making such a painful decision when they are bailed out by a mysterious benefactor… “Alien” (James Franco). Who (or more appropriately, what) is “Alien?” A white boy gansta/rapper/drug dealer guy with dreadlocks, a mouth full of gold teeth, and an unhealthy fixation with Britney Spears, who claims to be from another planet… a claim this reviewer is inclined to believe. The girls (rather inexplicably) fall for Alien’s charms, as he brings them into his world of drugs and sex and money (and guns, lots of guns). But Alien’s world is a truly dangerous one, and the farther the girls descend into it, the more their dream vacation threatens to turn into a total nightmare.

Spring Breakers, which is perhaps the most artsy-fartsy beach movie since… The Beach, comes to us from writer/director Harmony Korine, a filmmaker who first made waves back in 1995 with his screenplay for Kids, which I cannot deny was absolutely brilliant. It was haunting, provocative, and overall just a deeply disturbing work. As for everything else he’s done, Holy Christ… let me do a rundown; Gummo was garbage, Julien Donkey-Boy sucked donkey dick, and Ken Park… don’t even get me going on that vile pile of ass vomit.

As far as I’m concerned, Korine is a gutter auteur of toilet bowl cinema, and I’m not exactly a fan of his. However, if there is one thing being un critic du cinema has taught me, it’s to go into every single film, even the ones I think are going to blow beaver butt, with an open mind… as doing so can periodically bring about a pleasant surprise. Such is the case with Spring Breakers. I expected to despise it, strongly, but I ended up kind of liking it.

Now, I should point out that this is not a movie for the masses. In fact, I’m a little surprised it’s gotten such a wide release. Many who go to see this film are really not going to like it, for perhaps a couple of different reasons. The art house crowd, who would recognize Harmony Korine’s name, are going to see the first half of the film and think it’s just a polished Girls Gone Wild video. The moviegoers of less sophisticated design, who show up for the T&A, which is supplied in abundance, will probably be put off by the artsy-ness of the whole thing.

What am I talking about? Well, the way the film is edited, we’ll see montages of people partying on the beach accompanied by moody, dreamy music and/or quasi-deep narration from one of the characters. Another bizarre artistic touch is when certain lines of dialogue are repeated for no apparent reason.  Maybe it’s meant to imply that those lines have some greater significance…? Fuck if I know. Let me put it like this, if Terrence Malick ever directed a beach party movie (after dropping a shitload of acid), it would turn out something like this. For many out there, I imagine it won’t go over very well… at the end of my screening, when the closing credits came up, somebody shouted, “What the hell was that?!”

For me, however, it more or less worked. Like Korine’s past films, it gets incredibly sleazy, and sordid, and made me want to take a shower afterwards, but I was also invested in what was happening, intrigued as to where it was going, captivated by the gorgeous cinematography by Benoit Debie, stimulated by the bodies on display (I am a dude, after all), and, for the most part, entertained, particularly when the flamboyant Franco enters the picture.

The first half plays like a slightly pretentious version of Project X, with Gomez and Hudgens doing things that Walt Disney most definitely would not approve of. This front section of the film does get a tad repetitive and tedious, what with all those seemingly endless montages of smoking, drinking, and fucking. And aside from Gomez, none of the lead girls are well developed as characters and are more or less interchangeable.

Then Franco comes into the movie, and when he does, it becomes his movie entirely. He has to be the craziest white dude with dreads this side of Gary Oldman in True Romance, and hot damn is he a blast to watch. A long way from the Land of Oz, his “Alien” is a disgusting, creepy, little scuzzbucket… but he’s also absolutely fucking hilarious. Everything he does, from talkin’ black, to playing the poolside piano for his ladies, to sucking off a Beretta, is just priceless, and he more than makes the movie. This is probably my favorite performance of his, and if the Oscars had any balls (which they don’t), they would nominate it, for sure (which they won’t).

Thanks to Franco, I had a lot more fun with Spring Breakers than I ever should have been allowed to. But his outlandish turn aside, I really enjoyed the film overall as I was watching it. So, why the relatively low rating, you ask? Well, when it was all over, I was left with one burning question: What was the point? What was Korine trying to say with this? I mean, it’s obvious from the heavy stylization and the introspective voice overs that he was going for more than pure exploitation here. So what, then? That bad things can happen to out-of-control college kids on Spring Break? That was the apparent point up until the last ten minutes, where the story makes an absurdly ridiculous turn that is so unbelievable that it invalidates such a point.

It was then that I came to the realization that Spring Breakers, with all its depictions of excess, decadence, and hedonism, really doesn’t have a point. That is such a shame, since Korine, as a director, has finally made a film that’s worth a damn, he just forgot to give it a purpose, and when it ended, I was left feeling kind of empty… despite the strangely good time I had with it.