Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More from Tribeca, part something...

I spent some time in Bermuda, which I'll talk about later, but here is the penultimate batch from Tribeca...kind of late, Sorry:

Descent

Written and Directed
by Talia Lugacy

Revenge fantasies are nothing new. There are lots of them throughout the history of literature and cinema. What's different about this one is that it's a chick flick. It's quite simple that Talia Lugacy is one of those feminists that hates men and wants to get her rocks off by degrading a few here and there. This is a movie, it's supposed to be fun, even though it isn't.

Maya (Rosario Dawson) is the perfect woman. She's a college student who's so wonderful, she is almost a TA as a sophomore. Also, the fact that she's black is a plus. Perfect to make her victimhood nobler than it might otherwise be. She meets Jared (Chad Faust) at a party. He's all charm and caring, and she initially resists, but there's that charm again, and with the title we know that it can't be a positive development.

He shows his true colors, and she, now broken, turns into a slut who is saved by the local bartender's(Marcus Patrick) personal cult. Cut to the next semester….

Adrian is now the focus of the picture and is taking the class where Maya is now a TA. She's running the final exam and he of course, is cheating. This leads to her brutal revenge, which is extremely graphic.

That's it. What's supposed to be somehow a deep psychological drama is in fact just a wind-up toy going through the motions. The acting isn't all that great, although Faust makes the most of what he's given. Yes the great betrayal is a bit of a shock, but the foreshadowing is such that something like that happening is expected. This is a feel nothing movie that's just repellent. A complete waste of money, don't bother.

The Grand


Written and Directed
by Zak Penn

It's quite obvious that Zak Penn is tiring of superhero movies. Otherwise he wouldn't have decided to do a mockumentery on of all things, poker. Now Poker as a spectator sport has become rather popular [why I don't know, it's worse than golf] and this isn't the first poker movie to come out in recent months. So with pop culture going in that direction, this sort of thing is to be expected. This film is all about the expected.

This is primarily about One Eyed Jack Faro(Woody Harrelson), a permanent resident of a rehab center who's heard that his grandfather's casino is going to be bought by the evil billionaire Steve Lavisch (Michael McKean) if our hero doesn't pay off his megabucks debt within a few days and the only way this is possible is to get into the eponymous poker tournament and win it. He gets in and then the film changes direction slightly to start having profiles on the other players in the tourney.
Lainie(Cheryl Hines) and Larry Schwartzman(David Cross), who are twins, trained by their father(Gabe Kaplan) to be ultra competitive, Deuce Fairbanks(Dennis Farina), a gangster of the old school, The German (Werner Herzog), a nazi of the old school, Mike Werbe (Michael Karnow), who's borderline autistic, and last and least, Andy Andrews (Richard Kind), who likes to play on the internet, and so, following this far-from-merry band the story of the Grand goes on.

Quite simply, the mockumentary has played itself out. Sure this has some good points, but for the most part the jokes fall flat. Ray Romano, as Lainie's husband, is just grating, as is Gabe Kaplin, who at one time was considered a genius. I guess it's Matt Bierman's writing which fails.

This is probably going to come and go faster than an inside straight.

The Killing of John Lennon


Written and Directed
by Andrew Piddington

The revelation here is that Mark David Chapman was married. We always knew that he was a nutcase, and there's nothing here that's much of a revelation. Although, this film documents a major event in popular culture, it's lacking something very important. Suspense. Yeah, we know the Titanic sinks, but it's what happens the characters around that which is interesting. This is an attempt at understanding, to make sense of the murder of John Lennon, but it fails. With all the words that Chapman wrote over the years, he's still primarily opaque.

The film starts when Chapman(Jonas Bell) was a security guard in Honolulu. He and his wife Gloria(Mie Omori) seem to be having a decent life together. True, his mom (Krisha Fairchild) is a bit of an airhead, and his job isn't particularly glamorous, there doesn't seem to be anything especially wrong with it. Then he gets religion.

The religion in this case is Holden Caufieldism. He falls in love with the “Catcher in the Rye” and his grip on reality begins to disintegrate, he goes on and on about this and that in the book, driving his poor wife to distraction. Then he falls in hate with John Lennon.

What's scary here is that his criticisms of Lennon are actually somewhat logical, although his solution is not. We know that there is madness here, but there doesn't seem to be anything but pure logic behind each and every action. This is a madness the audience is sucked into. He doesn't seem like a nice guy, but where he's coming from is rather clear and concise.

The film goes on too long. I'm not sure that keeping the film going well after the crime is a good thing. It feels like a denouement and as such it goes on and on and on. Okay, we know why he did it, enough already!

This is an uneven film, Well done technically, but missing something, and that unknown something ruins it.

Illegal Aliens

Directed by
David Giancola

I don't usually review direct-to-video movies, but there was a reason to make an exception for this one. Anna Nicole Smith had just died and was being treated as a martyr. Although she wasn't an actress by any means, she was one of those celebrities who were notorious rather than famous, and pretty much everyone had forgotten why she became famous in the first place. So when I received a press release for it a few months back I was intrigued.

The DVD screener had the film and the trailer, so I took a look at the trailer and it looked as bad as I feared. Then the publicist called me up and asked what I thought. It sucked, I said and I probably wasn't going to review it because he was nice to me in sending it and I didn't want to give him bad publicity. He said that I should review it anyway, “but give it some respect.”

Okay, here it is. I respect the producer because he had the cajones to get all that money out of unsuspecting people to finance this piece of garbage and thus is a far, far better salesman than I ever can hope to be. Having seen the film in its entirety, I cannot comply with the publicist's request. This is pure unadulterated crap.

Cameron (Lenise Sorén), Drew (Gladys Jimenez), and Lucy (Anna Nicole Smith) are the eponymous superheroes from another planet, who fight to protect Earth from baddies from other planets, but their day job is as stuntwomen in Hollywood.

In this case, it's Rex (Joanie Laurer) who goes around shooting people for no reason and wants to blow up the Earth. She has a good reason too. So the IAs go off to save the day yet again. Yadda, yadda, yadda. This has all the looks of a failed TV pilot, and probably was at some point.

This is a sloppy film. Yes sloppy. It appears as if the first draft of the script was written while the writers were drunk, and the second pass was just to correct typos and spelling errors. The editing is slapdash. Anna complains to the director about a dumb line and breaks out of the story, which is something everyone does at the end. The acting isn't actually inept, it's just not very good, and Ms. Smith is just as “fine” as everyone else. That's sad, as some of the people appear to have talent, despite their working so hard to hide it. Why do they DO this?

This is what “Grindhouse” films were all about. Crap. Tarentino take note.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I used to read your website a lot but lately I've been noticing far less reviews posted per week which disappoints me. Hence it's already Saturday and you have no reviews posted that open this weekend. Anyway, last night my husband too me to a wonderful film called Amu which I hope you review as soon as possible because its so powerful and beautiful. What did you think about it?