Friday, March 16, 2007

Third Friday Document Dump

I'm not sure when they're going to get the GVG put up again, but until then, we'll put up this week's batch here...

Premonition

Directed by
Mennan Yapo

Linda Hanson(Sandra Bullock) has become unstuck in time. If you have read Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s “Slaughterhouse Five” you would understand what that means. Unfortunately, Vonnegut's books generally make bad movies, I'll have to explain a bit. Thursday is followed by Monday, which is followed by Saturday and so on. We know this in advance because they make it clear in the trailer.

When we first meet her, she's a suburban housewife with two cute little girls(Shyann McClure and Courtney Taylor Burness) and her husband Jim(Julian McMahon) is coming back from a business trip. Linda comes back from doing her morning chores when a cop arrives and informs her that Jim was killed in a car accident. The usual stuff happens in cases like this, and then when she wakes up in the morning, Jim is alive and it's Monday. Thinking that she might be going nuts, Linda shrugs it off.

Then comes the funeral, and we see a major plot point and a huge, I mean HUGE, plot hole. This is never actually addressed, and everyone seems to have forgotten about something so huge. Exactly why this is isn't addressed by anyone, but it's really annoying. So's much of the rest of the movie, in which Linda, with SOME knowledge of the future, plays into fate's trap and in turn gets herself into trouble with her mother(Kate Nelligan), best friend(Nia Long), and shrink(Peter Stormare), not to mention her dead husband, who is not as wonderful as we think he is for the first two thirds of the film.

The problem with this film is that it's not adventurous enough. It goes to great lengths to show how banal and boring Linda's life has become as a stay-at-home mom, but it also seems that Linda's bit of a bore herself, and this boringness pervades every millimeter of celluloid. We know that nothing is going to change fate, and that makes the climax somewhat anticlimactic, which itself is a surprise.

The acting is perfectly fine, and everyone, especially the two kids, manages to rise above the sub-par script, but unfortunately, not much. This is a bit of a waste, especially for Bulluck, who has made much better choices in the past. Don't bother.

I Think I Love My Wife

Written and Directed
By Chris Rock

When Chris Rock and Louis Szekely [pronounced “C.K.”], decided to do a remake of Eric Rohmer's 1972 “L'Amour L'apr├Ęs-midi” they must have not have known what they were getting into. After all, this was a very, very French film, and their previous effort together [“Down To Earth”] crashed and burned with a white hot fire. Could they manage to translate that film into one for the American public without it appearing drab and slightly misogynist? Actually, it appears so, for it's drab and VERY misogynist.

Rock plays one Richard Cooper, an investment banker commuting daily to Manhattan from the suburbs, he has a lovely wife named Brenda(Gina Torres), who's a grade school teacher and two very young kids. All would be wonderful if he was getting any, but no, she's all but kicked him out of bed. Richard is getting frustrated with state of affairs, for it seems that he's a “pussy-whipped” fool.

Then one day, Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington) comes back into his life. She's beautiful, intelligent, needy, selfish and evil. Soon, she's trying to take over his life and ruin his marriage. Exactly why, we're not sure. But there you have it. Richard wants to be faithful to his wife, and to some extent remains so throughout the film, but soon Nikki has him jumping through hoops and having him dance like a puppet on a string. This is a stereotype if there ever was one, and therein lies the problem.

This film isn't exactly ANTI-adultery. George(Steve Buscemi), Robert's best friend at the firm, is cheating on HIS wife left and right, and he's apparently extremely happy. It's the wife and would-be mistress who are the problem. With the exception of Richard's secretary(Welker White), all the women are depicted as either callus or evil, and to make things worse, the men aren't depicted that much better.

The problem is primarily the script, but secondarily is Rock. He's not very good as the haggard hero. While he's sympathetic for the first part of the picture, one wants to slap him upside the head that he's sooooooooo stupid. Even worse, most of the jokes fall flat.

This is not a date film, nor is it a chick flick. I'm not sure who it's for, but it's probably not you. Don't waste your money.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Written and Directed
by Ken Loach

What is the difference between terrorism and revolution? What are the rules of war when only one side agrees to play by them? And when the game is over, what if one side doesn't actually want to stop playing? That's the tragedy of Ireland in the first quarter of the 20th century. Ken Loach tries to answer that in what seems to be biased retelling of the history of the Irish revolution and civil war which followed it.

When we first meet him, Dr. Damien O'Conner(Cillian Murphy) is a pacifist who's going to go work in London, when the war ruins his plans. He and his brother Teddy(Padraic Delaney) are playing a form of field hockey with his friends Micheail(Laurence Barry), Finbar (Damien Kearney),Leo(Frank Bourke), Rory(Myles Horgan), Dan(Liam Cunningham) and Chris(John Crean), something that has been banned by the British authorities. The “Black and Tans” get wind of this little act of rebellion and counterattack by heading to the house of Damien's girlfriend Sinead(Orla Fitzgerald) and her grandmother (Mary Riordan)s, and start harassing the players. Micheail acts defiantly obnoxious, and pays with his life.

Damien is determined to leave this all behind when he sees some soldiers try to buy some train tickets, only to be told that the engineer refuses to let them on the train. They respond with violence, and this not only ruins Damien's trip, but drives him to join the Irish Republican Army. He and his pals are now soldiers at war, except they're dressed in civies and go around like normal people, except when they meet up with the British soldiers, who suspecting the truth, treat them as the enemy. They innocently respond with murder. The British don't like this at all, and there's more reprisals, which leads to even more (this is a low level war) and we get to see our “heroes” kidnap and execute the local lord (Roger Allam) and their pal Chris, who betrayed them. Justice in the areas controlled by the revolutionaries is definitely in the communist mold, which causes dissention in the ranks.

Thing get worse when the war against the British is one and the Irish turn on each other, leading to a heartbreaking ending.

This is a brutal film of terrorism and how it works. What's strange is that Ken Loach and Paul Laverty's screenplay is very much pro-terrorist, having the anti-treaty forces in the civil war be the good guys and the leaders of the newly independent Irish government portrayed as traitors, when in fact it was the other way around.

The acting is excellent. Murphy is overdue for an Oscar®, and the rest of the cast does a bang up job. This is one heck of a scary movie. If you're interested in history, it's worth a look.

American Cannibal: The Road to Reality

A Documentary Directed by
Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro

This is a documentary. That's the shocking part because this doesn't seem like one. It's more like one of those faux “mock-umentaries” that make fun of such crap. In fact, the press notes starts out with a FAQ starting with “is this for real? It's so damn stupid that one can't think that anyone would actually go as far as it did and put down real money to produce it.

Gil Ripley and Dave Roberts are two schubs trying to make it in show business. They've had an actual failed pilot made, and their agent thinks they should get into reality television, so they start pitching a few ideas, none of which are very good and all get rejected. Then they meet a certain Kevin Blatt, who foisted the Paris Hilton Sex Tape on the world. He likes two of the more perverse ideas they pitch, and soon, much to their chagrin, the most stupid one, the title of the film, is put into production as a pilot.

Remember “Springtime for Hitler?”

This flick oozes contempt from every pore. The interviews with the various professionals who discuss how the whole creative process works aren't particularly enlightening. They are only in it for the money and know that they're going to the lowest common denominator. The production team doesn't seem to be very high on it except for Blatt, and some of the prospective contestants, who are all depicted as morons. There is genuine sympathy shown for Roberts and Ripley, and we almost forget that they thought up this stupid idea themselves.

Despite all odds the pilot is actually shot, and things go horribly wrong and everyone bugs out. If it hadn't there wouldn't have been a film now, would there. At least not this one.

If you want to laugh at the moronic extremes of Reality TV, you should rent “Series 7” which, while completely fictional is far, far better, or check out the original version of “The Producers,” which is brilliant. Pass this one by.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

what about adam's apples and dead silence? not good to leave those out since they're both supposed to be really good. adam's apples was a foreign film entry in 2005 acamedy awards!!

ericl1 said...

Adam's apples was at the same time as several other screenings. As to Dead Silence, there were no press screenings at all.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the explanation but it's a bit dissapointing when 9 movies open in new york and you only reviewed 4 which is only 44%.