Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The monday document dump.

Well, here we go again. The GVG didn't publish again and we have to put it here.


Directed by
Gregory Hoblit

Exactly what the title mean is rather obscure. But my best guess is that the protagonist, Ted Crawford(Anthony Hopkins) a who is structural engineer, looks for fractures in airplanes and such, that the tiniest of fracture can destroy an entire vehicle.

The film begins with Ted's wife Jennifer(Embeth Davidtz) having an affair with a hunk named Rob Nunally(Billy Burke), and we know from the trailers exactly what's going to happen to poor Jen. So on with the latest episode of “Law and Order: Los Angeles!”

So, since this is a glorified “Law and Order” episode, the usual stuff happens. The detectives arrive, arrest Ted, who immediately confesses and DA Joe Lobruto(David Strathairn) appoints DDA [“deputy, not assistant, same difference] Willy Beachum(Ryan Gosling), who is about to go to a much better job at a top law firm, the job of doing the arraignment, and since this an open and shut case, the entire trial. That's when things start falling apart and Willy loses the case. Hannibal Lector is oh so much smarter than the cocky pretty boy.

While our hero is having all sorts of troubles with his case, he's also having a tussle in the hay with his prospective new boss(Rosamund Pike), which is something he obviously should have reported to the people upstairs, but that's neither here nor there. The thing is just filler, and it would have been better if they had just concentrated on the case at hand. The redemption arc is actually rather interesting.

But the thing is pre-ordained and the viewer knows how it's going to end from the minute Ted is acquitted. However, if you're a L&O fan, it's worth a look.

In the Land of Women

Written and Directed
by Jonathan Kasdan

Sometime during George W. Bush's first term, Jonathan Kasdan was given a chance to direct a film he had written. He took that chance, and the film was completed in early 2005. Years passed, and the film's release was delayed and delayed and delayed. Not only that, it was transferred from Warners' proper to Warner Independent. Exactly why is a bit of a mystery. The film isn't that bad, but still, the film is a little off and that's never stopped anyone before.

Carter Webb (Adam Brody), a young Hollywood screenwriter specializing in soft core pornography, is going out with a supermodel named Sophia (Elena Anaya). As the film begins, their in a Hollywood diner, and he's in the process of dumping him.

Now, Carter is God's gift to women and he knows it. How could she do this to him? He's really depressed and is discussing it with his mother(JoBeth Williams), when his grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) calls and announces that she's about to kick off. Now mom's all set to go to suburban Ann Arbur and take care of her when Carter says that he's going to do it, he's got to get his butt out of the glamorous world of Hollywood and finally finish that novel about his horrible life in High School he's been working on since he was seventeen, he's 26.

Now when he gets there, and we are reassured that Granny is comic relief, Carter stumbles across Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan), the across the street neighbor, and since she's still gorgeous and he's God's gift to women not only is a friendship immediately established, but she tells him her most intimate secrets, such as the fact that her husband(Clark Gregg) was having an affair and what she'd really like to do with her life. She also arranges a date between Carter and her teenaged daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart), with younger sister Paige(Makenzie Vega) acting as a chaperone.

Since he's God's gift to women, they fall in love with him immediately, and thus he gets beaten up by the guys when Lucy takes him to a party. Then of course, there's the obligatory cancer subplot in order to spice things up. It's all very soapy and gets rather boring in parts, but the acting is good, but that's really no reason to spend good money on this throwaway picture.

Perhaps that's why it's only coming out now instead of a year ago.


Directed by
Nimród Antal

Don't get me wrong. I LIKE horror films. I've seen some extremely good ones over the years, and I even enjoy mediocre to bad ones. I'm really ticked off when stuff like "Hunted Mansion VI" comes out and they don't have any press screenings. I've missed some good chances to tell my readers about some excellent gorefests because someone at the publicity departments at the various studios thinks that horror fans don't read movie reviews and there's no real reason to screen these, which is a pity, really.

Usually, horror films are not THAT bad, and much of the time they are original and entertaining filmmaking. Not this. While this has some good dialogue, here and there, the film is the least original I've seen. This is a paint-by-numbers affair that is not only tired, but looks as if it was written by a computer program.

Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson play a generic married couple driving down a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. He thought that it would be shorter than the interstate, where there was a traffic jam. Ain't that always the case? Well, to make a long story short, they get stuck at a isolated motel where the proprietor(Frank Whaley) provides them with one of he worst hotel rooms in the history of the movies, complete with a VCR library of what happened there previously. Not being morons like the other six thousand previous tenants, our heroes fight back.

If you're going to start with episode VIII, it's always better to have at least someone running around who's seen episodes I-VII. That's what this is, we're in the middle of a series and nobody's told us. Beckinsale and Wilson are the special guest victims and somehow, they're going to figure out how to revive the staff of the motel for number IX. However, judging from this thing, Mark L. Smith isn't smart enough to figure it out. Best quit while you're ahead and go see “Hot Fuzz” like you're supposed to.

Everything's Gone Green

Directed by
Paul Fox

Money can't buy happiness. We all know that but, is trying to find out all that wrong? Writer Douglas Coupland apparently thinks it does, because that's the theme of this hypocritical little gem.

Ryan(Paulo Costanzo) is an all-Canadian slacker living in Vancouver, BC, who, as most sitcom heroes are, gets fired from that job he hates and is thrown out of his snotty girlfriend's pad almost simultaneously. While he's being lambasted for not being ambitious enough, he mother(Susan Hogan) calls: Dad(Tom Butler) has won almost six million bucks in the lottery, but can't find the ticket.

The number is wrong [of course], but somehow Ryan impresses the guy from the lottery(Aidan Devine) enough to offer him a job. Luck works in mysterious ways, apparently, because on the way to the official interview, he meets up with the beauteous Ming (Steph Song), who unfortunately is going out with the skuzzy Bryce(JR Bourne), who allegedly designs golf courses, but in fact is more into other things, and he gets Ryan into a money-laundering scheme.

The film is snarky and mean-spirited, which if you think about it is perfectly fine. Coupland and director Paul Fox have nothing but contempt for anyone who wants to play the lotto, or even getting ahead, and it shows. No one is pure, everyone except maybe Ming is greedy and vacuous, and therefore, easy to laugh at. The jokes, for the most part, work. You'll have a good time, but with a need for a shower afterward. Perhaps it's the Luddite nostalgia for the nobility of poverty, or an innate neo-Marxism with its hate for the “bourgeoisie.” Still, hate makes better humor possible, and that's the case here. Worth a cheap matinee.

Hot Fuzz

Written and Directed
by Edgar Wright

Two centuries ago, the great actor Edmond Kean lay dying of some disease. A friend of his who was at the scene asked him if dying was hard. The immortal reply was “Dying is easy, COMEDY is hard.”

Indeed comedy IS hard to do. Some of the top people in the business have made some extremely expensive turkeys over the years, and when a true comic masterpiece comes around that's truly a cause for celebration. Start celebrating: its here.

Sgt. Nicholas Angel(Simon Pegg) is the best that Scotland Yard has. He's so good, in fact, that he's being sent to Sandford, the most boring place in all of England, in order to stop him from making everyone else look bad. Little do they know….right?

Welcoming Sargent Angle to the force is Inspector Frank Butterman(Jim Broadbent), his son PC Danny(Nick Frost), who's a bit of a drunk and loves action movies, and a bunch of slacker cops(Rafe Spall, Olivia Colman Paddy Considine, and a couple of others) who wouldn't know a murder from a ham sandwich, and soon prove that the previous statement is true.

At first, it seems such cluelessness is completely benign, as the local notables, all of whom are played by former action stars (Timothy Dalton, who was James Bond, Edward Woodward who was” the Equalizer”, Paul Freeman, who played Belloc in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Billie Whitelaw, who played the nanny in the original version of “The Omen' and a bunch of others), seem to be the usual sitcom stereotypes, but of course there's something rotten going on here, expecially when various people start getting whacked with astonishing regularity.

Angel is astonished that nobody in the local force wants to investigate, but this script is far more intelligent than it appears to be, and auteur Edgar Wright, co-writer Pegg and their partner in crime Nick Frost have more than one trick up their sleeve. When the action starts for real…WOW!

This is what an action comedy should be. It's a real trip and makes the stuff Broken Lizard puts out look lame by comparison.

Alice Neel

A documentary
Andrew Neel

Alice Neel was a minor 20th century American artist who did portraits and illustrations and only achieved great acclaim late in her life. Her grandson Andrew decided to do a memorial tribute to her by using found footage and video as well as interviewing his parents and his uncle, who didn't seem to be very happy when recalling their childhoods. There was also an aunt, who killed herself some years before the film was constructed.

She didn't seem like all that nice a person, and reading the notes, I was shocked to learn that her second son's father was a bigwig in the US communist party and of her work as an illustrator was in quite a few lefty illustrations during the 1930s and '40s. This part of her life, and a decent selection of her art, was not even shown, which could very well create a false impression of the lady

AS a documentary, it wasn't all that bad, but it didn't really go below the surface. We're left with lots of questions, especially why she abandoned her daughter...after all, there's that portrait of her at eight or ten, so there must have been contact. As to the personal stuff, Neel is open and honest about his grandmother, but as to the rest, it's all coverup. This is a film for her fans and art historians, and the general public will probably find this film rather boring.

The Valet

Written and Directed
by Francis Veber

The French can do sitcom! That isn't really news but not that many get over here and most those that do are to cerebral or too stupid to be really funny. This one hits it right on the mark.

Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), a billionaire, has been dating Elena (Alice Taglioni), a supermodel, for several years now and she's getting fed up with it. She either wants him to marry her or dump her. He, being French, doesn't understand that kind of thinking [After all, President Mitterand made his mistress Prime Minister a couple of decades back] and to make matters even worse, his wife Christine(Kristin Scott Thomas) is getting suspicious…well probably not, but she's definitely getting annoyed.

The problem with the divorce is the usual tax problem. Wifey owns a majority of the empire's stock, and…this movie was done a thriller just last week, a thing called “Perfect Stranger,” at least the setup was…so, Pierre's lawyer Maitre Foix (Richard Berry) comes up with a sneaky plan. Since the tabs printed a photograph of Pierre and Elena with a third person, why not get that third person to pose as Elena's boyfriend for a while while the finances are finagled in Pierre's favor.

The Schnook in question is a François Pignon(Gad Elmaleh), who parks cars for a fancy restaurant [Valet parking, get it?] and is madly in love with his childhood sweetheart, Emilie (Virginie Ledoyen), but she doesn't want to because she's in debt and he's a schnook, who lives with his even schookier coworker Richard (Dany Boon).

So with a financial incentive, both François and Elena agree to the scam, and with the paparazzi doing their thing, we get the standard farce with witty dialogue and cute situations. The acting is rather good, and Daniel Auteuil does a great slow burn. There's also a rather cute turn by Patrick Mille as a smarmy cel phone salesman who has the hots for Emilie. This is the one of the few French films that is a definite must-see.

The Holy Mountain (1972)

Written and Directed
by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Long ago and far away, a Hispanic Jewish lunatic named Alejandro Jodorowsky invented the midnight movie. It was called “El Topo” and it was bloody and misogynistic and made little or no sense. Which, coming at the end of the 1960s, was perfect for the consumers of illegal intoxicants. Thus, Jodorowsky became rich and famous, and was able to create a second film, more expensive and inexplicable than the first. This was the too-mystical-for-it's-own good “Holy Mountain,” which has been mysteriously lying on a shelf for lo these many years.

The film follows a Jesus look-alike (Horacio Salinas) and a deformed dwarf, as they wander around the wilderness and Mexico City's Zocalo district. Here Jodorowsky thrills us with a reinactment of the conquest of Mexico with all the characters played by frogs and lizards. I'm serious. Jesus also gets attacked by bakers or something like that, and is saved by whores and a chimp, like I said, the whole thing doesn't make a lot of sense.

So the filmmaker takes JC to another place, a tower, where an A mystical Alchemist(Jodoworsky) and his bald and beautiful assistant explain…holy shit! No I'm serious, that's what they explain. When they're finished with the divine feces, the Alchemist introduces us to an entirely new cast of characters, a bunch of mostly evil industrialists who own entire planets, who are going with JC and the Alchemist to the mountain of the title. The rest is Joseph Campbell.

The film is worth seeing for the visuals. Jodoworsky was a master stylist, and imagination oozes out of every pore. Everything comes out of left field, and there's method to this madness, even though it's intentionally obscure. The HD DVD's picture is exquisite, and even makes up for the mostly useless script. It's going to be given a nominal release here and there, and might be worth a look, especially if you have illegal intoxicants about.

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