2013 Film Review: January
It’s time to dust off the keyboard and get blogging!
Isn’t that a painfully generic way to open an article? It’s an expression often heard on blogs, and yet it doesn’t even make sense.
Bloggers need to “dust off” their keyboards due to blogging inactivity, insinuating their PCs have been dormant between blog updates as if they haven’t been used for emails, banking, porn or uploading other people’s facebook photos to fuck with in Photoshop.
Awful introductions aside, I would like to introduce you to the slightly less shitty looking shoddy blog version 2.0. I thought I would fire up these fancy new digs with an article relating to my favourite subject, but Amputee Porn doesn’t seem like a respectable first post. So I’ve decided to write about movies instead.
Fair Warning: I’ve gone a little haywire with these reviews, and will assault your senses with a deluge of information. Firstly, I’m a huge fan of Josh Miller’s Franchise Me, so taking a leaf out of his book I will separate each review into the Good, the Bad and the Also (any extra thoughts will fall under “Also”). 2013 set a new record for sequels and remakes (31 sequels and 17 reboots), so I will let you know if there are any sequels on the horizon for each film. Fuck it, I’ll even let you know if the film has a stinger.
I’ve really gotten fucking carried away here, so to save your eyes, brains and whatever appendage you use on the mouse wheel (I’ve always used my tongue) I’ve broken up the films by month to make the information a little more palatable.
All films are allocated as per their Australian release date. Box Office receipts are in $USD and are the Worldwide figures. The films I saw in January are…
What’s it about?
Former Military Sniper James Barr is arrested for shooting five Pittsburgh residents. He uses his one phone call to contact Tom Cruise, which is the same thing I do whenever I’m arrested. Cruise believes his innocence, and the impending investigation leads him deep into conspiracy territory.
Based on the book One Shot by Jane Austen.
Jack Reacher is a strange beast – it feels like a silly 90s Action film, complete with all the cheesy fun that proposition brings. A ridiculously smart and good looking hero, who wanders in and out of scenes with incredible skills that leave onlookers with mouths agape. Decent fight scenes we can actually see (fuck you shaky cam). A practical car chase (fuck you CGI). A pretty blonde actress you’ve seen a shitload of times, but just can’t remember her name (whats-her-face from that Bond film in the ice mansion). A sinister recognisable older actor leering in the background (batshit director Werner Herzog), and an affable sidekick to aid the Hero’s quest.
Yep, this feels like an action flick you would have picked up on VHS from Blockbuster back in 1996 – but it carries the weight of that era as well. The forgettable plot. The hero that kind of wanders around town doing whatever he wants, though most of the time it is completely unfeasible. The hokey one liners. The central villain who is there for face value, but has fuck all to really do.
The film is remarkably dumb.
Got a workmate who has read a metric shit tonne of the Reacher novels, and he describes the central character as a six foot four no nonsense blonde wrecking ball. Dolph Lundgren seems like a better fit, so I would say midget Cruise with his million dollar smile is sorta mis-cast.
And I’ll also take this opportunity to throw in a quick word about Cruise’s insane driving style in the film. Reacher is the ultimate fully capable Alpha male, yet for some reason when he drives a car insists on violently fishtailing the car around every single corner, like he’s trying to shake Robert Patrick from Terminator 2. Huh.
They’ve been trying to get a Jack Reacher film made since the first novel was released in 1997. Three separate studios held the option before it landed at Cruise’s production company in 2005. Even then, it took another seven years before we saw Jack up on screen.
Just seems like a lot of effort to let the character disappear after one film.
What works in a sequel’s favour, is that there is a wealth of Jack Reacher books to adapt (18 at last count).
What works against it is that Paramount wanted a $250 mill take from the film, of which it only got to $217 mill. Cruise has expressed a little interest in another run at Reacher, but he’s got fifty other projects on his plate in between worshipping Space Squid. We will definitely see another Reacher film, just not in the immediate future – and probably not starring Cruise. Oh, and by the way:
The Final Word:
This film wont indelibly etch itself onto your memory. You’re not going to see any clips from this film when Tom Cruise gets his lifetime achievement award a few decades from now. But there is an undeniably goofy charm on display here, the kinda film you could happily sit through one night after work when you can’t be fucked doing anything productive.
Remember how you felt when your mildly retarded pet dog finally learnt to stop pissing on your lounge room carpet, and you wanted to give it a hug? That’s how I feel about Jack Reacher.
I give it three out of five dead Squirrels.
What’s it about:
Los Angeles 1949. Nick Nolte has requested a few renegade cops to go off the books and hunt down the resident crime boss Mickey Cohen. Least I think that is what he said. Nolte’s voice is now so gruff and grizzled he makes Vin Diesel sound like a 14 year old boy who just got punched in the balls by comparison.
The film is a tonne of fun, like a pulpy Noir novel you would pick up for five bucks at an Airport News Agency. The film includes a shoe shine informant for fuck’s sake, gotta love that.
What a stellar cast they’ve assembled on film. Brolin as a tough as nails WWII hero turned cop. Sean Penn as the evil villain. Emma Stone as the Femme Fatale. No shit, you could swap half the actors for puppets chiselled out of old white dog turds and I’d still consider it an amazing ensemble. Kudos also most be given to the awesome late 1940’s LA setting, one we rarely visit in cinema.
Firstly, how long did they spend coming up with the title? If it was longer than five minutes I would be very surprised. I’m betting there’s a notepad somewhere after a think tank session that includes some real doozies (Crime Basher Upper Team, Bad Guy Smashers).
The film is fun, but there is a very cartoonish vibe to the whole thing – so if you’re aching for some LA Confidential levels of drama you’re going to be left lacking.
They gather a wonderfully diverse gang of law-makers, but then half the squad is left with little to do. Robert Patrick’s character is particularly wasted, built up as an Old West type gun slinger – and then no awesome gun fights to pay off this great idea.
The trailer for the film had gangsters shooting up a cinema through the back of the screen. That scene was removed after that Joker cunt went nuts in Colorado.
Further side note: The film includes a scene of a Detective launching his badge off a cliff into the ocean below. It got me thinking about that similar scene in The Dark Knight Rises where the young cop throws his badge off the bridge. Or that scene in Point Break when Keanu chucks his FBI badge into the surf. Is there a sandy beach somewhere, where all of these badges are washing up? I like to think local hermit crabs are creating homes from all of the shiny shields.
The story has a start and a finish, so these particular characters aren’t up for another go. The film cost 60 mill and had a return of 105, so didn’t exactly set the banks on fire. There’s no real incentive for the studio to revisit the scene. A shame, actually.
The Final Word:
Like a comic book or computer game that has come to life, Gangster Squad is a great night’s viewing. Four out of five dead squirrels.
In which a freed slave teams up with a German Bounty Hunter to free his wife from that baby faced fucker Leo Dicaprio.
Tarantino has carved out his own little chunk of Wild West (or Wild South I should say) here, featuring amazing locations populated by memorable characters. When QT is on point he’ll build an absorbing world and there’s quite an experience to be had.
Christoph Waltz was brought to our attention with his Oscar winning role in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, and rolls into town with another Oscar Winning performance as the heroic Dr Schulz. He nails the performance, so spare a thought for the poor bastard as he is relegated to crappy villain roles when he’s not in Quentin’s films. Not kidding here, Christoph has signed on for Pirates of the Caribbean 5. If that film was a flavour of pizza, it would be pineapple and pig shit.
Speaking of Inglorious Basterds, remember the conversation scenes from that film that were so unbearably tense you were shuffling awkwardly in your seat? Big Quents brings those goods again, thanks in large part to stellar performances from DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson. Nice of Sammy L to remind us he can actually act when he’s not coasting through fifty films a year.
Got to give a shout out to the outrageously squib effects in the film. Obviously influenced by the Wild Bunch’s gun = hand cannon formula. Gloriously chunky bullet wounds abound.
With all of these great performances, the titular character kinda falls behind. Jamie Foxx (who was actually born with the far less porny sounding name Eric Marlon Bishop) does a serviceable, yet not entirely memorable job.
I only have two other admittedly minor qualms with the film:
1. Tarantino hit the scene like a sledge hammer in the mid 90s with his groovy new way of shooting flicks. There have been many imitators who try, yet fail to emulate the “coolness” of his films – to the point where sometimes Tarantino himself seems to be producing lame Tarantino rip offs (I’m looking at you, Death Proof). Don’t get me wrong, he definitely nails it withDjango Unchained…but there are a few times in the very final scenes (once Django’s transformation to vigilante badass was complete) where he started to stray.
2. I’ve never been particularly enamoured with Quentin Tarantino’s acting skills. Hell, I don’t think any sane person has, and thankfully he has kept his appearances to the briefest of cameos in his films of recent. Unfortunately, we don’t get off so lightly with Django Unchained. Tarantino wanted to squeeze his “favourite Aussie actor” John Jarrat into a small role, and then decided that “fuck it, I’ll give an Aussie accent a whirl too”. Actors like Robert Downey Jr can’t nail the accent, but Big Quents thought he could pull it off. Nope. As an impersonation of the South African villains from Lethal Weapon 2 it’s not bad. As an attempt at Australian it’s solid ass.
But like I said, minor qualms.
Tarantino couldn’t write a Christmas Carol without dropping the “n-word” fifty times, so you can only imagine how many times it pops up in a film about racist slave owners. Spike Lee has always been pretty pissed about Tarantino and his habits, and this film was definitely no exception as he launched a few tirades about the film on twitter – criticizing it’s Spaghetti Western nature as an insult to his ancestors. Before he even saw the film, natch.
After the credits there is a very short scene involving a one liner from one of the caged slaves in the wagon. Check it out if you can be fucked, but it’s not life changing.
The film took $425 mill which is Tarantino’s biggest earner by far. After the Oscars in February, Big Quents said he would entertain the idea of a sequel, having fallen in love with the Southern setting.
But here’s the thing about QT, he’s all talk when it comes to sequels. In 2000 he teased a Vega Brothers film (featuring characters from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction). In 2007 he said Vega Brothers was “unlikely”. In 2009 He declared his desire for a Kill Bill: Volume 3, then in 2012 said that film was “probably not going to happen”. You also have to take into account his less than prolific output of work, and the fact he’d rather be sucking champagne off Hooker toes than committing to these projects. So don’t act shocked when we don’t see Django 2 in the next few years.
EDIT: Miramax have announced that Tarantino’s next film will be The Hateful Eight, a Western. So we may see a revisit to the genre I guess.
EDIT 2: Nope, my bad. Tarantino spat it big time when somebody in his circle of trust released the script out into the wild. He’s shelved the project indefinitely.
The Final Word:
Like I was saying, when Tarantino is firing there’s nobody quite like him – you get not just a film but a whole new fully realised world to play in. Highly recommended.
Osama Bin Laden. A man so vile, he was once referred to as “The Middle Eastern Kathryn Heigl”. This film tells the tale of one CIA agent’s decade long search to locate the cunt.
What Kathryn Bigelow proved with the exceptional The Hurt Locker, is that she is bit of a deft hand when it comes to modern war story telling. Like that earlier film, Zero Dark Thirty is littered with famous face bit parts – but the real skill here is in casting lesser knowns in the pivotal roles. These aren’t classically beautiful people going through the motions, but rather average looking people you could stroll past in the street. Ordinary people, who just happen to have extraordinary jobs. Jessica Chastain has an impressive ten year character arc from nervous newbie to seasoned pro. Australian actor Jason Clarke also does some great work as an interrogator (ie torturer) feeling a little long in the tooth. He’s a guy who I think you’ll see a lot of in the next few years.
The story is also a fascinating one. How the fuck did they find somebody who had disappeared off the map? And why did it take an entire decade come to think of it? The answers are all in this film.
This is a procedural film, a story where the protagonist is often tied up in bureaucratic red tape – so those expecting Black Hawk Down (or even Hurt Locker for that matter) should look elsewhere for their war kicks.
Also: The Director was actually working on another film involving the Battle of Tora Bora and the long unsuccessful hunt for Osama in that region. She was about to start filming when news broke of Osama’s death, so she ditched that film to concentrate on the bigger story. Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title:
The main problem here is the actual real life story itself, simply they took too long to kill Bin Laden. Had they shot the prick a few months after 9/11 and released this film a year after that – it would have done bigger bikkies. By 2005 most people assumed he was dead. By 2011 when he was actually killed, we were too busy playing Fruit Ninja on our I-phones to give a shit.
This is part of why 93% of the film’s profit came from the US, while the rest of the world didn’t really seem to jump on board.
Maybe. But the more likely case is that super serious political procedural films traditionally don’t have enormous box office returns… and though the film didn’t do fantastically overseas, enough Americans turned up to give it a $108 mill overall take which is pretty excellent coin for a flick like this. I think we’ll see Bigelow return to the Modern War sandbox.