I've always admired Bobcat Goldthwait. From 80s comedies right through to recent stand-up routines, he has always been an original. His unique brand of humour is dumb on the surface but calculated beneath. He's a smart man and never short of an opinion and his newest film (he wrote & directed) is God Bless America. The sentiments of this story will appeal to many of us... this is Bobcat's objection to the current state of America. A society that worships gossip, gloss and sensation. Nothing is sacred as he takes aim at everything from advertising to celebrity culture. The story tells of a man who's become so disenchanted with the world he lives in that he picks up a gun and decides he's going to rid us of the parasites. He's joined along the way be a psychopathic teenage girl who bluffs her way along for the ride. God Bless America is a violent, dark and satirical statement that is destined to divide audiences. People like myself who agree that we're becoming a pathetic tabloid-worshipping society will get a kick out of this movie... but those who actually do live the shallow lifestyle will simply ignore it... and so it begs the questions of who is Bobcat trying to preach to? There is limited appeal here and so you've just got to take it on face value and laugh at the depravity of it. It's the lowbrow version of Natural Born Killers really... what shocked me the most about the movie was that real celebrities are named. While many targets are fictionalised versions of actual identities (Bill O'Reilly, Jersey Shore, American Idol etc) Bobcat lashes out at some real personalities too. Woody Allen, The Kardashians and Diablo Cody are all in his firing line. He's got balls, thats for sure! It over stays its welcome (just a bit) but there is a confirmation here that you're not alone. The state of affairs DOES suck and that you have control over it. Tune out and live life... you're not obliged to consume it.
Colombiana is another Luc Besson production carrying on the femme fatale themes of his previous films like La Femme Nakita, Leon & The Messenger. I'm always up for anything Besson makes whether he directs, writes or produces. You're always assured a good time and when he produces (like this) it's always an exercise in style over substance... and that's okay with me. When a young Colombian girl sees her parents executed by a drug lord she flees to America to seek out her uncle. She tells him she wants to become a killer and her life is devoted to the art of killing. 15 years later she is a highly skilled assassin and seizes her opportunity to kill her parents killer. Its formula but it's not tiresome. The Besson-touch breathes new life into the concept and the action is well paced, creative and fun. Colombiana doesn't quite have the overall quality of other recent flicks like Danny The Dog or Taken but it delivers the goods. Just be prepared to leave your disbelief at the door and strap in for a illogical and heightened action/thriller!
The case of the West Memphis 3 (WM3) is a long and complex story. In 1993 Three teenage boys were convicted of murdering three little boys in Arkansas. Two were given life sentences while the third was sentenced to death. Early in the case a crew of HBO filmmakers documented their trial in a film called Paradise Lost and revealed to the world that the 3 teens were almost certainly innocent. Over the years two more Paradise Lost films were made and with them came a global campaign to get the WM3 freed. I have personally followed and supported the WM3 since 1997 and have held several fundraisers... now comes West of Memphis, a new documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Many years ago Jackson and Walsh jumped to action and started to fund the legal defence of the three. Millions of dollars were spent and as most of the word knows by now, the three were eventually released under an absurd legal move called the Alford Plea. Its complex stuff but worth reading into. The Paradise Lost films focused on the probabilities of the WM3's innocence and highlighted the absolute lack of evidence linking them to the crime, whereas West Of Memphis takes a different approach and points its fingers directly at a suspect. Its an affective film but I did have a lot of reservations about it. Firstly I don't think it gives the Paradise Lost series enough credit. Without those films these men would not be free and those films makers (Bruce Sinofsky & Joe Berlinger) put in the hard yards of presenting this case to the world for over 20 years. Secondly while the suspect that Jackson and co have pointed the finger at does definitely look guilty and was even suggested in Paradise Lost 3, to string him up and flog him publicly like this is not much different to the lynching that landed the WM3 in prison. More care needs to be taken and while the film does present evidence it could be a slippery slope should he be proven not guilty. I feel like I have a personal connection with the WM3 having followed it actively over the years and so the most awareness raised, the better. I welcomed West Of Memphis with open arms and encourage it's ongoing attempt to bring new evidence to light (their case continues as the Alford Plea maintains their guilt) but it's also important to know how documentaries work. ALL docos have an agenda and its an easy format to manipulate. West of Memphis does get lost in it's own sense of justice and I hope a follow up gets made to properly conclude their ferocious accusations... FYI a feature length film is being made about the WM3. It's called Devil's Knot and is being directed by renowned film maker Aton Egoyan (he's ideal for it). Hopefully that film will draw the rest of the world into this case and help bring justice to these men!
We knew going into A Thousand Words that we were going to have to grant it a huge amount of lenience. It comes from that same formula that spawned better movies like Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty and Click and as this is one of the less appealing types of movie we were prepared for the worst.... or were we!? It was a struggle to reach the 40 minute mark at which point we couldn't take it any more and turned it off. A truly terrible experience.
Mental is almost a demented twin of Murial's Wedding... its even set in a parallel suburb called Dolphin Heads (Murial lived in Porpoise Spit). Director PJ Hogan and Toni Collette have reunited for this quirky, outrageous and heartfelt movie that's based on Hogan's own life experiences. Its the story of a dysfunctional family... the mother is committed to a mental hospital, the father is the mayor who doesn't visit and all daughters are convinced that they're suffering from various mental conditions. The absent father (Anthony LaPaglia) picks up a woman off the streets and pays her to look after the family. It turns out that she's not entirely sane either. This film is bound to divide people but I totally bought into it. The performances here are fantastic with Collette proving yet again that she's one of the best! American actor Liev Schreiber plays an ocker shark hunter and he totally nails the Aussie accent... he really impressed me! But above everyone else, Rebecca Gibney stands as the neglected and abandoned mother. It's a heartbreaking character and Gobney is wonderful... I've never seen her better. The film tackles serious issues humorously and its a delight. The prudish types will definitely be offended by Mental but that's good. Grow up and get over yourselves. LOL. I'm keen to hear more thoughts on this one...
I'm a huge fan of Broken Lizard. They're the comedy troupe who've given us movies like Super Troopers and Beerfest and their last outing was little gem called Slammin' Salmon. The entire film is set on the floor of a popular seafood restaurant called the Slammin' Salmon. The owner (Michael Clarke Duncan) is an egotistical and violent former heavyweight boxer who finds himself indebted to the Triads. He needs $20K by the end of the nights service and sets his staff the task of pulling in that kind of cash. The night is full of hilarity with the waiting staff (and manager) pulling no stops to extract as much cash out of their patrons as possible. I think this is Broken Lizards best movie. I laughed more during this than any other of their movies. The typical Lizard crew are as good as always but Michael Clarke Duncan steals the show as the overly aggressive and superbly stupid owner. Their films all tend to end up cult favourites and I reckon this one will keep getting better and better with time!
I know I'm not alone when I say that I'm growing tired of Ben Stiller (and Vince Vaughn for that matter) and his underdog type of character. He rarely offers anything new and I find most of his performances genetic. Having said that The Watch is a refreshing and entertaining flick. It rides the wake of popularity of other R-rated sci-fi movies like Paul and Attack the Block. A group of concerned citizens form a neighbourhood watch group to catch a killer who's started bumping off residents. They soon find themselves taking on aliens and its basically a situation comedy with several set-ups and executions. I know I'm not selling it very well but the movie works and offers a steady roll of laughs. Jonah Hill is great and his performance clearly overshadows Stiller and Vaughn who offer nothing but recycled shtick. Another nice touch is the casting of Richard Ayoade (from The IT Crowd). He suits the movie and has some great moments, although he wasn't given enough to showcase his talent. The Watch is fun and would have been excellent if cast better!
Never Cry Wolf was made in 1983 but you would never know it. The film tells the true story of a biologist (Tyler) who is sent into the Arctic wilderness to study the behavioural patterns of wolves to determine whether or not they're responsible for the declining caribou numbers, as suspected. At first I was a little suspicious of the film with a few seemingly implausible elements to the story such as the fact that this guy was so unprepared for his expedition and the manner of which he was posted... but then I looked into his story and realised that almost all of it comes straight from his own autobiography (but I'm not here to judge that). Wow! This is essentially a one-man movie with only a few other human characters interacting periodically and its done really well. Tyler recounts his story through narration, straight from his book which lends a documentary aesthetic, which makes for a convincing and inspiring tale. Charles Martin Smith plays Tyler and he personally recalls the shoot being the loneliest of his career. Its a great performance which precedes Dances With Wolves and Into the Wild and portrays a realistic and subtle journey of self-discovery. Of course there's a conversational message attached to the film but it's not preachy and it comes straight from the source material. I had always known about the film but never got around to seeing it until now and as I said at the beginning, it could have been made last year. It hold up amazingly. A great film.
I felt 10 years old watching Eliminators last night. When it came out in the mid 80s it was regarded as a cheap cash-in of bigger movies like Terminator and Robocop but it's story bares no resemblance and it actually sets itself apart. Yes it's cheap and yes it's cheesy but that's exactly what makes it so endearing. Its the story about a mad scientist who is perfecting time travel. When he no longer has a use for his mandroid and another fellow colleague he orders their execution. The mandroid survives and embarks on a mission of revenge. Teaming up with a sexy hardware designer and jungle-man the 3 join forces with a ninja (son of the slain colleague) and plough their way through henchmen after henchmen. Bullets fly, things explode and lasers slice... its B-movie magic at its best and Exterminators benefits from the course of time. I enjoyed it even more 27 years later than I did when I was a kid. Some of you have seen me spruiking the shit out of a new movie called Manborg... well Manborg took almost all of its inspiration from Exterminators... so much so that its almost a remake. This is fun stuff and if you've never seen this slice of 80s B-nostalgia then track it down and watch it with mates (drinks will help).
You've got to take some movies with a grain of salt and Premium Rush is so ludicrous that you've just got to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. It's a fast paced thriller about an audacious bicycle messenger who's being chased through the streets of New York by a crooked cop desperate to retrieve an envelope. I found myself shaking my head almost every five minutes but all the while giggling along and having fun with it. I'm a fan of director David Koepp and he deserves kudos for not taking himself too seriously and putting together a fun, exciting and far-fetched chase movie thats a little left of centre. I would lump this in the same camp as movies like Phone Booth and Man on a Ledge... they're all pretty dumb and they're all aware of it. Dont take Premium Rush seriously and you might get a kick out of it. Cheesy good!
The general response to Taken 2 is negative. I've heard and read mostly bad things. I thought the first one was cool and so I went into part 2 keeping my expectations low. Well, I thought it kicked ass! Picking up almost directly after the events of the previous movie Liam Neeson's character (ex CIA operative Bryan Mills) finds himself the target of a criminal father who's son was killed during the previous events. While visiting Istanbul Mills and his wife are taken and their daughter evades capture. Using his CIA skills Mills turns the tables (of course) and leads a furious rampage to freedom. I don't really understand what people view so negatively. As with almost every Luc Besson production (as writer/producer) it's a fast-paced, violent and taut action/thriller. It delivers bang-for-buck and is exactly what it promises to be! The Turkish backdrop lends a great aesthetic with Besson's flair for alleyway chases and street vendor mayhem. With a short time to reflect on what I've just watched I think I enjoyed it more than the first. Good stuff.... don't take it too seriously!