Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Disco Exorcist

I was fully prepped to be writing one of those ‘its so bad its good’ reviews here. The thing is though, that doesn’t really apply here. This film is just brilliant. Its a low budget masterpiece. From the first title, the one which reads “the producers have no memory of the making of this motion picture”, you know you are in for something special. Honestly, its absolutely hilarious. What this isn’t though is one of those films where the special effects are hilarious, but everything else is played straight, just everything is hilarious. Its outstandingly immature though, if you consider yourself to be a sophisticated, high brow horror snob type, the Disco Exorcist isn’t for you. Go and watch some Gordon Lewis films and report back when your penchant for gore is satisfied, but you are left wanting a bit more silliness. The film vaguely follows the plot of the Exorcist but is set primarily in a 70s-tastic disco. That is, I suppose, the main difference. It is certainly not trying to be a remake, but aside from this it is pretty true to the original. Oh, also, minor thing, the possessed is a porn star. But yeah, thats probably it … and … the exorcist is a (kind of) janitor… and the climactic (yes…climactic) scene takes place at an orgy. There are drugs too, hilarious, Tony Montana shaming piles of drugs. I could give you a run down of the plot, but really its not that important, someone gets possessed and someone else has to deal with it. In this respect it is pretty much almost exactly like the original. Even if the theme song, which is one dud note off the classic tubular bells is the only non-disco track in it. I honestly, and I know this is controversial, the Exorcist being a bona-fide classic and all, enjoyed the Disco Exorcist way more than the (original) seventies straight faced film. I think, aside from the endless stream of infinitely repeatable one-liners, what it has spot on is the timing – it is what happens when someone who clearly has a great understanding of film making decides to make something outstandingly silly. What I need to get hold of now is the soundtrack…

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Mutant Chronicles

Mutant Chronicles has a serious consistency problem. I was going to make a hilarious joke about the consistency of crap, but you know we wouldn’t stoop so low on this site. Needless to say, Mutant Chronicles is a big old turd. With maybe a few granules of awesome thrown in. This granulation is a problem. I get crappy action movies, I don’t just get them, I love them, I actively seek them out and number them among my most favored of films. This has all the ingredients, a pretty good cast, a collection of one liners that almost outdoes some of the Stallone classics (almost) and a plot which is so ridiculously thin it can be summed up in one line: incongruously multi-cultural (with ridiculous accents) group journeys to mutant factory to destroy it. Even half of that sentence was taken up explaining that the group is incongruously multi-cultural, thats how much I had to pad out the plot to get a worthwhile sentence out of it. The problem though is that it never quite embraces this crappiness, it wants to be Blade Runner awesome when it should be trying to be Bucky O’Hare awesome. It is best summed up by the films use of blue-screen CGI for basically, as far as I can tell, absolutely everything. I think even some of the money they paid John Malkovich to be in the movie must have been computer generated, because I cannot for the life of me work out how they convinced him to be in it. Anyway, some scenes look absolutely amazing, really beautifully rendered fantasy worlds, some scenes they clearly ran out of money, or will power, and filled them with so much cgi smoke/dust/light accents/gas that you can barely see what is going on. For some reason they have even done this in scenes set in such mundane places as a front room, presumably to give some sense of continuity visually, but making the whole thing make very little sense. Had this been a zero budget (this is not me saying it is a big budget movie by the way, they just spent all the cash on Malkovich) fun action romp (romp is a word reserved for such descriptions, and Sun newspaper headlines) they would have done away with all the pretty stuff, thrown in some more gore and one liners and everyone would have been happy. If they had a little more cash they might have been able to build a couple of sets. I think this might have made the film makers invest in them a little more. There are some amazing settings that are there just because the characters happen to wander through them. If they had spent a little time and effort making them they might have been tempted to have the cast do something or another in them just so we can linger over them a little longer. As it is all the meaningful dialogue takes place in normal rooms, lift shafts and caves. Its a tiny bit like playing tekken on the ps1, everything going on behind the characters looks amazing, but you know you can’t go an interact with it. Oh by the way, the black guy dies first, oh then the other black guy… then an Asian dude…then a German, then an Asian woman, then a white chick, then the white dude manages to…oh you know the rest?

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R.I.P.D

There are a lot of things to love about RIPD, it is an awesome concept (there is a police force manned by the dead…), they went all out fun with it, rather than taking it all dark and brooding, which would have made the slightly (very) questionable CG all the more incongruous, the plot moves along at about seven or eight million smiles an hour so you don’t really have time to think about how dumb it is too much, and about half way through Jeff Bridges utters this line “made love to my skull…do you know what that is called?!”. The movie is worth it for that line alone. They really pushed the limits of the PG-13 rating. If you don’t find that funny though, too mature or something, then you’ll probably join the many many people who dislike RIPD. It is not a very popular movie. I can see why people didn’t like it. It never quite lives up to the promise of its premise, the whole thing is
unquestionably stupid and its got Ryan Reynolds in it. And he keeps his shirt on (that was a genuine complaint on one of the many disparaging reviews). But is has Kevin Bacon as a really really ridiculous villain and Jeff Bridges doing some of the most fun scenery chewing I have seen in a long while. He even sings a sad song when he is down. I really can’t see how you could hate this move. Maybe it is because doing anything but pretend to hate it is to have to admit that “it made love to my skull” makes you laugh.

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The Worlds End

The Worlds End is a very well made film. You will realize this when you think back through it and notice that things that seemed completely inconsequential are actually thematically significant. The film follows a group of old reunited friends, they who have grown apart in time and life has rather got in the way of good old fashion silly adventures. By adventures I mean pub crawls. I am sure you can guess that whilst the name of the film is the name of the final pub, the end of the ultimate pub crawl, it also signals that something other than pub crawling might be up with the film. The thing is though,the main character is something of an asshole, and I really struggle with films where the main characters are assholes. I know its important that they are assholes, it is the only way that the events of the film can change them and we can watch them blossom into non-asshole lovely people. Films like this though usually require someone to, like, hang around with the asshole characters for a while, to help them on their journey, and this is usually just rather unbelievable. No one likes hanging around with assholes. Its a fact, I completed a fully peer reviewed and scientific study on over one human being, and they said that given the choice they wouldn’t hang around with an asshole. There you have it, the whole premise of the film, and the many others which follow this story arc, is a lie. Someone should make a film in the what I am going to name “realizing you are an asshole and changing it” genre that doesn’t have anyone else in it at all, like a sort of Into the Wild, but with an asshole instead of a bear. I am not saying it would be a good film, but at least it would make sense. The absolute worst thing about The Worlds End is that the main character is chronically unhappy with his situation, which is to say friendless and going nowhere. Two problems which its is more than possible to solve just by not being an asshole.

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Jack Reacher

The eponymous hero Jack Reacher; when ever he speaks to a woman she sort of swoons a little and looks like she is falling in love with him. The thing is, he isn’t that attractive, and he doesn’t actually do anything to warrant this kind of reaction. Other weird things happen too, a bus load of people work together to protect him from some cops without even asking what he has done. He could have literally just committed a triple homicide using a crossbow, the night before getting a tattoo across his chest reading “protect me and you are next”. It would be a weird way of choosing victims, but the point is, the police come after some guy with many cars and a helicopter its safe to assume he did something a little off, don’t become an accessory to triple homicide people. The thing with all this silliness is that if it was in something which has always worn its dumb fun status on its sleeve, like the Expendables for instance, it would be fine. But this film has quite a few moments where we are invited to empathize with the victims (innocent victims) families, reminding us that the people who die at the beginning of the film are not simply plot devices, but people with lives and feelings and families who loved them. Its completely incongruous. That is not to say I care about those things, I am perfectly happy to watch movies where people get killed all over the shop in the name of good clean fun, its when they mix that fun with weird sentimental and emotional stuff that I get a little confused. To try and get to the bottom of the films tone problem I watched a little of the commentary. This didn’t help though, I was really hoping for a moment where the director explains “we were trying to make this light hearted and entertaining” or “this was supposed to be an emotional rollercoaster”. Instead we just have Tom Cruise literally saying how great everything is, including himself, whilst using the term “architecture of the shot” far too liberally. No one cares about the architecture of the shot Tom. No one. Suspend your disbelief and you’ll probably enjoy the film, it has a lot going for it, guns, car chases, a random old man who risks his life for someone he met the day before. Just don’t think about it as hard as the film maybe wants you to, and don’t bother with the commentary track.

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12 Years a Slave

We have become very used to seeing bad things happen in films only to allow for a much bigger cathartic pay off at the end. When someone does something horrific we know that later on we are probably going to see them get their just desserts – and if they have been suitably awful they will probably die in some horrific way. Depending on the context, I usually embrace this and ignoring the fact that, for instance, Judge Dredd, is a terrible and scary vision of a world without due justice and fair trial, am pretty happy when the bad guys die. What makes 12 Years a Slave especially impressive is its absolute commitment to showing the reality of the situation the characters find themselves in. Importantly, this ultimately comes down to no one really being punished for the wrongs they commit, when it would have been so simple to spend a little more time building up emotion at the end the reality is that perhaps returning home after all those years was never going to be as simple as just turning up. The film looks beautiful, and the acting is impressive, if a little cliche at times, but I think the main reason the film has won a lot of awards because it deals with an incredibly difficult subject in the manner which it deserves. It does not go too far with it, probably safe in the knowledge that what you’ll see is terrible enough that emotionally you’ll be as engaged with with characters as much as if it had gone down the simpler, less meaningful cathartic revenge route – you always have Django Unchained if you fancy a bit of that.

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12 Monkeys

Let me just preface this by saying that La Jetee is one of my all time favorite films ever. 12 Monkeys is an abomination and an insult to that film. That speaks more to my love of the former, rather than indicating a dislike of the latter. 12 Monkeys is a great film, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the film it is based on, which is intelligent, thought provoking and beautiful. 12 Monkeys is fun, silly and, whilst it is somewhere on a spectrum aesthetically, it isn’t near the end occupied by beautiful. It’s more in the area of “crammed full of interesting stuff that looks cool”. Some parts are a sort of steam punk wet dream, whilst others are exactly what most of the other films set in near future, but made in the 90s, look like. If you are unfamiliar with the story it is time travel silliness with Bruce “greedy and lazy” Willis and Brad Pitt. Greedy and lazy has to go back in time to sort some shit and it all goes a little wonky. For once, its not the “you changed things in the past” motif which runs through so much time travel sci-fi which is a welcome change, and the story, taken as it is from one of the best films ever, almost holds up, even after intense screwing around with its internal organs. The film works as a good sci-fi flick, it looks good and it has got some great moments. But it has not aged especially well, and watching the film it is based on will really highlight just how bloated the story becomes. Watch it, enjoy it, then watch La Jetee and see how it was supposed to be done.

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Oblivion

Oblivion is a really good looking film. The production designer deserves a medal or something. I mean, its a dystopian future and whatnot, but it looks bloody lovely. If apple made them, this is like the mac book pro of dystopias. Its a sci-fi movie which wants you to think its way more intelligent than it really is. Which is fine, its a trend lately to take your everyday run of the mill sci-fi movies then try to add a nice extra layer of intelligent spread, just so folks might leave the cinema with blown minds. The thing is, mind blowing doesn’t usually translate into profitable movies, what with some people being rather stupid and that, hence the need to make you think its rather intelligent, when in fact it does some rather interesting stuff but explains it all so meticulously that it rather takes the fun out of it. That might be missing the point though, and the point is, this film looks, like, seriously awesome. The sound is the shit too, there are these drones, and they make all sorts of noises to let you know that they are going to kill you, the noises though are brilliant, all like c3po on crack. Its difficult to really explain the film without spoiling, though you should get the picture about fifteen minutes in I am not going to ruin what little fun the film has in that department. I do have a serious, deep seated and insatiable hatred for Tom Cruise, but for some reason they seem to vanish when I watch him in a movie. He is a good actor, he manages to not act like a douche for the whole duration of this film. Needless to say Jack (Cruise) is a man who has become unstuck in time. Did I mention that its seriously derivative? I cant even say what of though, that would ruin it too. So that leaves me with…well… its so pretty….I mean… its a good looking film…

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Rec 3

Aside from the use of a video camera by all available cast members at the very beginning, Rec. 3 is entirely devoid of the handheld devices from which it derives its name. This ten minute nod to its
predecessors aside, this is some different beast to what has come before. Gone is the quiet, jumpy, creepiness of the first two films, and in its place a loud, ridiculous zombie flick has grown. Its a good film, its dumb, fun and silly enough to keep you entertained, but maintains the scare factor with a good dose of zombie antics. This is a problem though, the first two films were nothing like this, they were straight up scary, big old buildings where anything could be hiding around the corner are quite a different prospect to big old buildings with so many zombies in them that there will absolutely, no doubt, be one waiting around the corner. I mean, there are literally so many zombies in the building that it would be entirely possible to jump across the room on their heads, like a sort of erstwhile Indiana Jones, but with the un-dead instead of crocodiles. Is it even Indiana Jones who does that? Maybe it was Jack Sparrow. Anyway, also, whilst the film is presented as ‘the beginning’, quite what it is the beginning of is entirely unclear, its certainly not a prequel to the other two films, and if the ending is anything to go by Rec. 4 would have a difficult job of continuing the story from that point, so quite how this is supposed to work is beyond me. What this is then, is a competent, good fun zombie movie which will absolutely entertain you (and scare you if you are some kind of coward) that has had the Rec. name put on it to sell a few more copies.

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