Series 7: The Contenders Reviews
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Training Day - Denzel Washington won an Oscar for this? Instead of Malcolm X? For THIS?! Yes he gets to huff and puff as he plays against type as a dirty cop, but is this reason alone to give an Academy Award to such a forgettable and collectively implausible film? Ethan Hawk, his co-star, is actually better in the film than Denzel! All I can say is right actor, wrong movie. It's like rewarding Kevin Spacey for Pay It Forward over the other screamingly better movies. It doesn't make sense. There are plenty of hip-hop stars making cameos or small roles (Dr. Dre, Snoop, Macy Gray) but most of the time Training Day feels like tired and dead air especially as the contrivances begin to pile onto one another the longer this day goes. And Denzel is huffing and puffing but the house still stands. Man, the voters must really have not wanted Russell Crowe to win.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Serendipity - There's a universe somewhere populated entirely with down-on-their-luck lovable sweethearts and good-hearted friendly buffoons operated under the physics of romantic comedies. In this universe there is no such thing as chance, even if one leaves it up to it, and in this place what would seem like frustratingly idiotic behavior seems romantic. So is Serendipity revolving in this universe. Kate Beckinsale is a gal that leaves everything to fate, possibly even her taxes, and John Cusack is the smitten man running all over the place trying to find this mad woman. In our world Beckinsale would seem foolish or even mean-spirited, but because the two will definitely end up in each other's arms before the credits roll we allow her to continue her ridiculous behavior. She puts Cusack in a seemingly cruel obstacle course of chance to win her heart. These people operate outside of our known world. Eugene Levy has a brief and funny part in the movie but otherwise Serendipity takes itself as being much cuter and smarter than it is.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C-[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Sexy Beast - Never, under any circumstances, do you want to piss off Gandhi. Sexy Beast is a British crime story where the ferocious mad dog Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) is trying to recruit a retired hand (Ray Winstone) into one last job back in London. Winstone is enjoying the sun of California with his middle-aged ex-porn star wife who he loves dearly. But Don does not take "no" for an answer. Kingsley is the true focal point of the film and is astounding and brutally terrifying as the wound up gangster. He gives an electrifying performance that is the polar opposite of India's non-violent leader. When Kingsley vanishes from the screen Sexy Beast suffers and becomes a variation of the old crime film, except a very short one at that being under 90 minutes of running time. Video director Jonathon Glazer has done a fine job for his debut but there isn't much to this tale without Kingsley's memorable efforts.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Series 7: The Contenders - A scathing satire of our media and bloodthirsty society wanting something always pushing the boundaries. Writer-director Daniel Minahan has created a future where the most popular TV show is called "The Contenders" and selects five strangers at random in the same town as contestants. The problem is that these five people, including the winner of the previous season, are now on a manhunt in a kill-or-be-killed situation where the only prize of this game show is one's own life. Series 7 is skillfully made to be indistinguishable from other reality TV shows except for the bursts of language and violence. If you were playing this and a friend walked into the room they would be convinced it was a TV show. The film gets a little soap operish toward the end with its characters dealing with haunted love but the film is a fast and entertaining warning piece that might provoke as many thoughts as cries for blood.[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B+[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Audition - Ever seen a sick joke made into a movie? A Japanese movie? Well rest assured that you now can. The crux of this film centers around a widowed father raising his teenage son who suggests that dad begins to find a new wife so they can once again have a family. His friend comes up with the idea for an audition where they bring in hundreds of candidates and they can see which can ignite sparks. Sounds like an intriguing premise to a promising and cute foreign romantic comedy? Can you picture the fun and charming moments in your head as this premise plays out? Well now erase all that and replace it with a sudden violent shift into second-rate Cronenberg territory. The special one that the father picks ends up having a mysterious past that involves sexual mutilation by a frisky uncle who is now leg-less. Guess who did that? And then it gets even darker as the gal seems to hobble those around her for permanent company and slices and dices those she feels do not love her anymore. Where the hell did all this stuff come from? And that's the point: it comes from nowhere! The shift is so jarring that it happens like you're locked in a drag race. The horror is so over the top and inane that what seemed promising now turns into a great conversation piece with friends. "Hey, there was this movie that seemed like it would be fun and romantic and then suddenly..."[/color][/font]
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: D+ [/color][/font]
Well worth a rental.
The concept is showing a "reality television show" in which the contestants, all randomly chosen, must kill each other off to be the last one standing. If this sounds kind of like Battle Royale, it really isn't beyond the basic description. This movie was directed by the producer of tabloid television programs, and plays out as such, with sensationalism, cut aways during 'intense' parts, and annoying dramaticized commentary from the narrator throughout. Definitely gotta disagree with the movie's common description of "incredbly violent" though, which is fine because it really doesn't need excessive violence to be disturbing and make its points about American culture and media. Still silly and somewhat funny throughout as well.
5 outta 5, Another look at what is coming?