Showing 1 - 10 of 10 Reviews
Posted on 7/23/07 03:06 AM
I went into this movie with expectations restrained. The trailers kicked ass, but then again thats the purpose of trailers, right? They're little bundles of lies that leads us to believe a movie will rock the shit, whether they do or not we soon discover once we sit through the features themselves. Fortunately no lies were involved here, and, if anything, the movie itself tore the trailer to bits and pissed on each shard one fragment at a time.
It was an arresting experience, sitting in awe, watching this movie roll by one frame at a time. I was just engrossed. It was one of those instances where you're so overwhelmingly entertaind that you begin to forget you're sitting in a cinema full of people; you're by yourself in your own mind, you're locked-in, and your existing for every moment of the film that passes by. I know that in itself seem like a very powerful statement to make, I mean, it's not like this film bears the same kind of emotional integrity as say Schindler's List or Hotel Rwanda, but that doesn't make it any less an experience to savour. It has the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we all embodied as itsy-bitsy children when we were crunching our Transformer figures together on our bedroom floors; occasionally intergrating a Ninja Turtle, or a Ghostbuster just to broaden the fantasy in our tiny minds.
If you go into this film as a critic, you'll be doing yourself a disservice. This film demands that you volunteer your senses. That you don't sit there in analytical mode; questioning why every ounce of the film is happening the way it's happening and why. You can do that with all the Bergmann, Lynch, and Ozu films you want to when you get home. And if you simply insist on doing that then you've chosen the wrong film. Transformers is an artifact; an anonymous exhibit in a museum with no factoid printed below it. You don't need to know how or why it got here, you just need to look and admire.
I love you Optimus Prime.
Posted on 9/23/06 02:12 AM
I know zero-to-nothing about NASCAR; it's practically unheard of over in these here British isles. You're likely to find more people who've caught Apocalypse Dishwashing on television, in fact. But, so I learnt from an interview with Will Ferrell today, it's the second largest sport in America. Runner-up only to the might of American football. My curiousity is... How? It seems boring, and my brief encounters with this pseudo-sport have proven tedious. It's like Formula One racing (which is Europe's alternative to NASCAR, I guess!); too many cars doing too many laps. This is just a matter of opinion, mind you. I'm sure it's fun to watch for SOME people, otherwise it wouldn't be so big. But as far as I'm concerned it's basically just a full-scale version of scalectrix. Which makes it something of a surprise that I found Talledga Nights so amusing.
As Adam McKay's second step into the directorial landscape, he ha sa lot of pressure placed upon his sloping shoulders. After hitting the mark with fans AND critics on his debut, an impressively large guillotine now dangles above his neck for the follow-up; masses EXPECTING an Anchorman-beater. It's an unenviable position, by all means. The afformentioned reviewers and followers allow little or no margin for error, and its almost like a syndrome where these people expect to see the same film. Shit, even I found myself adopting this mindset as I sat down to view Talladega. It's a natural intuition; gearing yourself up to anticipate seeing certain things. This steers the masses towards and unfortunate case of narrow-mindedness, and some of the bad-spirited feedback Talladega has recieved, I believe, has been generated from this unfortunate syndrome, because, this isn't a bad film at all. No, sir! It's actually very funny.
Okay, I'll admit, it's not as quotable, or as nuts as Anchorman was. It's substituted some of its zaniness for more of a focused plot, but this doesn't do the film any discredit. In order to grow as a filmmaker it's neccesary to change these factors, and try the elements you didn't perfect, or even get to use, in previous projects. And while the plot here was paint by numbers, it was stronger than that of Anchorman, and only served to strengthen the impact of the jokes, which, let's face it, is what everyone is here for anyway. I mean, one thing I love about McKay's comedy is its awareness of its own stupidity; it isn't dumb, it just acts dumb. For instance, there are a lot of points where the characters will step outside themselves and analyze their own psyches. Near the end of the film Ricky Bobby and Cal are having an argument, and Ricky suddenly apologises and tries to make peace. Cal is taken completely by surprise, and says something that sounds almost insightful,
(vague recollection) "I'm not entirely sure what you're doing right now, and frankly I'm a little confused, therefore I'm just going to stand here and continue to be defensive!"
Will Ferrell, predictably, is almost too perfect as the character of Ricky Bobby; the simple egotist whose main objective in life is, understandably, to go fast. John C. Reilly, who normally is associated with dramatic indie performances, plays his sidekick Cal in a fantastic comic turn, embodying the spirit of the character impeccably. He's so flawlessly stupid that in most, hilarious instances his character is genuinely oblivious to his own follies and short-comings. Him and Ferrell share the scene of the movie; not to spoil the confrontation, but, Reilly's Cal turns Ricky Bobby's world on its head, and rubs it straight in Bobby's face without even realising. Comedy gold! Finally we reach Sacha Baron Cohen who, in the coming months, is going to be atop the Hollywood wishlist; granted he isn't already. He's a sheer wonder as Jean Girard, the homosexual, French F1-turned-NASCAR driver, and he owns just about all of the scenes he is in.
All in all Talladega is a humourous continuation of form for director McKay, and if you enjoyed Anchorman then you really cannot go wrong. It manages to juggle both stupid and smart in such a deceptive way that with the sheer capacity of jokes flying your way you'd be forgiven for missing the occasional glimpse of intelligence.
Posted on 9/13/06 03:45 PM
Oh, dear. Now, before I go into this review, allow me to just clear something up: I'm not opposed to this apparent Asian remake fad. As a fan of Asian cinema long before this tend kicked off, it's good to see these great movies get some spotlight. And more often than not the remakes only serve to give the originals some much deserved exposure. The remakes are generally none too bad, either, to be fair. The Ring was a breath of fresh air, The Grudge was right on par with the original (which was hardly ground-breaking in itself, so it deserves its dues), and Dark Water was a brilliant interpretation of Hideo Nakata?s original; placing more focus on drama than horror. However, don?t get me mistaken here; sometimes remakes just do not work. No, scratch that; sometimes remakes JUST AREN?T NECESSARY! Pulse falls into this category. It is, without a doubt, the most unnecessary remake I have ever seen. Even more so than Gus Van Sant?s shot-for-shot Psycho remake.
Jim Sonzero?s Pulse is a million miles away from Kiyoshi Kurosawa?s original. I?m not entirely sure where, on-paper or on-screen, the original even stood out as a feasible remake-vehicle. The original (known better as Kairo, and what I?ll be referring to it as from here on) was the anti-standard Japanese horror film of its era; an era which was defined, in essence, by Ringu-wannabe, supernatural horror movies; child ghosts terrorizing (mostly) women and (sometimes) men. Kurosawa had the balls to go ahead and release this film which had no physical threat or menace, instead the fear was founded from the human condition; people were terrorized by the fear of isolation and loneliness. In turn, this made Kairo one of the most intelligent horror films I?ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, and even after approximately 250187 viewings I?m still finding the tiniest nuances which alter the landscape of the film in some significant way. Put bluntly: it?s an endlessly insightful film for me, and one which contains a brilliant commentary on the lost art of physical connection and communication.
Flash-forward some five years or so now, to a world which, so we?re led to understand, is more cunning and savvy; overall more intelligent. A world more reliable on the implication of a technological interface on society. A world where human contact is an inconvenience. It?s a complex, hollow culture which we currently exist in? So WHY the FUCK is Sonzero?s Pulse about a hundred points removed from its predecessors I.Q.? Seriously, I mean? Fuck! We?re living in a time where the message of the original carries more weight than ever, and instead we?re treated to this half-baked crock of shit that takes every subtle metaphor from Kairo and gives each one a startlingly obvious face. Are we such a tragically retarded cluster of humanity that (the studios) don?t even think we have the capacity to mentally digest insightful, and un-blatant messages? Or, and I?m almost certain this is the reason, did the producers just try desperately to turn this into a Ring/Grudge-style cash cow. Realizing, only once pre-production had started, that they had fuck all to work with in terms of the same shock-horror that The Ring and The Grudge had generated in abundance.
In trying to turn Pulse into that popcorn movie that makes schoolgirls jump, they have destroyed everything. The story, meaning, and purpose of the original died, for me, as soon as the first scene of Pulse had ended. All that the movie really has to its credit is an interesting aesthetic; it?s shot real nice, and looks real pretty ?n all. But even then it?s over-saturated in a blue tint that proves to be really fucking annoying around the 30-minute mark. Just because the green tint worked in The Ring isn?t justification enough for this crap.
Uh! I didn?t mean to make this a rant, as opposed to an actual review, but this film just pushed all the wrong buttons and I had to let it out. I felt it my duty, as such a fan of the original, to express how bad this interpretation is. I?d sooner find a way to shit on my own face than see this again. Watch the original? Please!
Posted on 9/07/06 01:28 AM
It seems like every year we're graced with one, special dramedy (that'll be a cross of both "drama" and "comedy" for those out of the know). A fillm everyone hails as the big hit; the must-see material. For the past few years this trend has sustained itself well: About Schmidt ('02), Lost in Translation ('03), Sideways ('04), Broken Flowers ('05). And in our current year of existence, this one we call 2006, we're treated to Little Miss Sunshine. In fact, treat is the perfect term to describe this indie hit. Because the sad fact is that a treat can still make you sick.
When I left the cinema following the screening, admittedly, I had no strong feelings either way. The movie was entertaining in portions, sure. I can't deny that there was some snap to the dialogue, and ingenuity in the family's comic follies. But something felt like it was missing. And it was only when we got back to a bar, and a friend of mine shared with us how much he hated the movie, that I began to piece together those missing links in my own head; one of my strongest gripes being the casting. Greg Kinnear and Toni Collete were horrible options for this movie, especially to play opposite each other. Their tedious chemistry and lack of direction made me feel like I was watching two people act, and for the entire movie that invisible barrier seperated me from being interested, or involved in their characters. Combined they shared the depth of a paddling pool. The saving grace, and backbone to this entire movie was Steve Carrell, playing suicidal scholar, Frank. And it wasn't neccesarily that his character was that well fleshed-out, it was the state of bi-polar melancholy that he sustained throughout the film. The dry quips and remarks he exchanges with the rest of the family are among the funniest in the movie, and despite being humourous, as soon as he delivers his line, he goes right back to on-the-brink mode; a man using jokes and idle chat to keep himself from falling back over the edge.
Maybe I'm a cold, heartless bastard but this tale is a little too saturated in sentiment for me to cope with. And it's not that I can't deal with that. It's that the sentiment is misguided by bad character development, bad casting choices, and a predictable cause/effect chain that leads us from one point to another, from start to finish. I can't involve myself in a tale of a family overcoming obstacles in the race to find peace with each other, when I don't believe in half the family. If the film has one saving grace, it is the Little Miss Sunshine pageant itself, where the film takes on a darker tone; exposing the event as a paedophilic paradise. Although, it does so with a deceptively light-heart, therefore while you're giggling away at the ludicrous nature of these pageants and their paricipants, you're all too aware that the film is trying to tell you that these things are, as Dwayne (Paul Dano) so delicately puts it, fucked up!
I can see why so many people like this movie. It's funny enough, in just about the right places. But I wanted more. I was expecting more. And I'm dumb-founded, looking at the iMDB and Rotten Tomatoes scores, that I appear to be the only one who feels this way.
Posted on 9/04/06 03:26 AM
Generation Y is defined by many things. As those who have experienced life both pre-, and post-information age; the people who have grown side-by-side with continual advancements in technology and communication, we're steadily less patient. We anticipate things quicker and quicker. Crank is a film that caters to an entire generation, and it's a film that our culture; its ideals and demands, created.
If we were to travel backwards in time to, say, 1996, do you think Crank would have even seen the light of day? Maybe. In some sort of straight-to-video format, with a fraction of the budget. But studios would not have dreamt of taking a risk on a wide cinema release. Fast-forward to present day, however, and audiences are ready for this. It's time for unrelenting, mind-melting action to take centre stage, and this should prove to be a landmark effort in the action genre. Leave your brain and your sensibilities at home, ladies and gentlemen.
Directing double-team Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine utilise their background in commercials and music videos; condensing the action concept down and trying to make use of every second of screen time. This is a successful exercise, as the film refuses to let up or slow down for the entire running time. From first till last minute your adrenal levels are kept as frequently boosted as those of Chev Chelios (Jason Statham). It's a credit to the style of direction that this all works so well, it utilises a lot of the ever infamous MTV-style fast cuts and shaky camera-work, but to perfect effect. Where in other movies this would just end up irritating, it actually works perfectly. Shots are persistently moving, panning, scaling, not giving us the viewer a chance to establish ourselves. If we get a brief chance to breath, it's torn away by a jolt from leftfield. This is not the only factor to the film's credit either, because, for the entire 83 minutes I was sat watching, I had a constant smile on my face. The sheer ludicrous nature of some of the scenarios and events just impressed me. It was kind of "this is so fucking stupid... but I absolutely LOVE it!" Crank even succeeds in being funny on a number of occasions, too. There's an instance in a lift where Chelios is sat inside a lift, having just injected himself with an adrenaline booster. He begins to question himself as to when exactly this shot should be taking effect; he sits puzzled, and sluggish. The very next shot we see the lift arrive at its floor, the doors open, and suddenly Chelios sprints out screaming his head off. Hilarious!
Not everyone will like this movie, I mean, if you're opposed to a bit of action then this will probably be your worst nightmare manifested into movie form. However, if you've got the stones for some nonstop, absolutely insane entertainment, then Crank is the button you need to be pushing.
Posted on 8/25/06 01:22 AM
The film kicks off in a manner befitting the course of the movie: with a war. It fits so well, because every aspect of the movie presents you with a conflict. War with the system, friends and lovers, enemies, and with one's self. Jim (Christian Bale) returns from his stint in the army to face life after war; a man whos been turned machine by the processes of combat. He no longer thinks or acts like a human being, and tries to be comfortable with his own personal demons by exuding machismo. It soon becomes apparent to his friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) that Jim "ain't quite right" when the pair witness a gruesome murder (although "execution" would be a more fitting term), and while Mike is sat in the car shaking, grimacing at the spectacle they just witnessed, his friend Jim is reflecting on the killer's marvelous technique with an eerie glow to his face. The character of Mike is some what more ambiguous than that of Jim. He is a man half-way between tragedy and sanctuary, and while Jim is all too insistent on pulling him down his girlfriend Sylvia (Eva Longoria) is, often regretably, trying to keep him on the straight and narrow.
The influence of women actually seems to define this story. For a film screaming with masculinity, it is the feminine input and support that keeps the men human. I've already highlighted this in Mike's case, but in Jim's it is almost like his saving grace; as the only person he feels comfortable exposing any vulnerability to is his girlfriend, Marta. She is the only one who comforts him as he wakes up from nightmares about the attrocities he faced serving for his country. His girlfriend lives across the border in Mexico, however, and that distance and space takes its toll on Jim who is inevitably often left to face his own torments alone.
There is an adolescence to the male characters, and in some senses this feels like a coming-of-age story; for Mike at least, who gradually learns the importance of being a better man. Jim's wreckless nature helps him realise this, and the further and further Jim slips beyond sanity, the more it encourages Mike to shape up. Jim acts almost as a martyr for Mike in this sense; helping him find a line to draw in the sand where he can learn to respect the important factors in his life.
David Ayer, in making Harsh Times, has created a film which feels more childish than Training Day (which he wrote). But don't take this comment in a negative sense, because by this I mean it feels more energetic; more sparodically paced, and generally feels deeper in its concept. Training Day is still the better executed effort of the two, but Harsh times just feels more substantial.
Yeah, some of the MTV-style, fast-motion, brightly-coloured segments where Jim goes crazy are a bit contrived, but that's one forgivable flaw for a film so consistently electric.
Posted on 8/23/06 03:14 AM
To borrow a quote from a more well-known Keanu Reeves performance...
I wish I could use that one, singular word to cover my entire review. Just that one word, and not one more. But, alas, that would make me a really, really shitty reviewer (and i'm not that great a reviewer anyway), therefore I should elaborate. "Woah" is the feeling you get when you know you've just witnessed a part of cinematic history. "Woah is that voice right in the base of your bain that tells you, over and over, you've just been blown away. It's that moment of enlightenment where you realise an experience has become a landmark in your life. Oh, yes. A Scanner Darkly is THAT incredible.
Philip K. Dick and Richard Linklater, in tandem, are a force to be reckoned with. It's a partnership whereby Linklater exhibits such an intuitive understanding of the source material that you would lead yourself to believe they were working from the same brain.
Now, I'm not going to write a synopsis for you; this is the internet and you can find those anywhere. You probably wouldn't care for one if you've made it to this page, anyway. As a writer I hate having to re-tell things that have already been told; my job is opinion, and in keeping with this job, here is mine: the story and plot develop to present Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) as a man conflicted. Simple conclusion? Think again! He is a man who promotes, unwillingly, an anti-drug message which encourages people to join the fight against a powerful, popular drug called Substance D. He is, however, so tired of this process, and life in general, that he has resorted to taking the drug himself. Arctor is a man who, like all of us, is constantly calling into question the attibutes of an ideal existence; WHAT defines idealic? WHO defines idealic? So on and so forth. Part of Arctor's psyche tells him that the ideal life is with a wife and two kids, living in a smart house in the middle of a suburb. Meanwhile, the other section of Arctor's psyche tells him that the carefree life he is currently leading is ideal; wasting away with his friends, doing drugs, and hanging out. Arctor's confliction is amplified by his work situation, which requires him to work beneath the alias of "Fred" as an undercover investigator. He dons an every-man suit for each working hour of his life, this suit cloaks him and constantly shifts form to look like a different human being (which, by the way, is visually incredible to look at) and this makes Arctor feel completely anonymous. No one within his department seems to be aware of his true identity except for him, and it encourages Arctor to fabricate a reality for "Fred" which is seperate to his own. When Bob Arctor is placed under suspicion for Substance D networking, however, it becomes a vicious cycle as "Fred" is assigned to survey Arctor. Watching himself from the outside looking in, Bob is caught in an introspective freefall; worsened by the paranoia that the agency Arctor works for could be moving in on him at any time. Everyone in Bob's life becomes increasingly more suspicious, as friends seemingly turn on him. This does, however, parallel Bob's increasing dependance on Substance D, and leads you to wonder whether what you're seeing is fact, or simply a paranoid illusion influenced by the drug. It all wraps up quite eloquently with Bob metamorphisizing from deeply introspective to simple and agreeable in a climax that gave me more of a pro- than anti-drug vibe. I can't really delve into this, however, for fear of spoiling the development of the movie. So just watch it for yourself and maybe you'll see where I'm coming from... OR, maybe I'll just be alone on this!
I'm not entirely sure that with any other lead actor this vision of Bob Arctor could have been realised. As a friend of mine highlighted after we'd seen the film, based on something he'd read online: Keanu Reeves is an actor who works externally. It is his thing. Where most actors have a process which occurs internally, and you're only shown the end result, with Reeves you can physically see the process; you can see the cogs turn as he decyphers things for himself. This doesn't make him a diverse actor, by any stretch. But in roles like this, where the character he's playing is constantly clouded with uncertainty, it works perfectly. It's the same reason he was good in The Matrix, and in Thumbsucker. Another factor to take into account is the casting of actors who all share a history in drug abuse. I don't understand how anyone can pan this brilliant decision, because it makes everything so natural. It feels so familiar watching these characters banter and bounce off one-another.
Finally (I know, this has been a long-ass review) we get to the visuals. About 5-10 minutes into the movie, when "Fred" is givingh a speech to a room full of people, I felt sick and I could not understand why. Was it the sloppy, Hungarian "cuisine" I had eaten before I left? A possibility. Maybe it was the gallon of cinema-grade cola I'd been sipping non-stop for the past 25 minutes? Likely. But, no. As soon as the scene drew to a close I felt okay again. And then it hit me: it was the film. I'm not saying it's uncomfortable viewing, or that it will give you motion sickness; nothing like that. I was just so perplexed by the intricacy of what I was seeing that I almost had an outer-body experience! And it was only by the end of the scene that I had allowed myself enough time to accept what I was seeing. Every frame of the film has been drawn-over in rotascope, and the end result is just fascinating. I admire the team of people who sat down in front of their computer screens, with film loaded up, and said to themselves...
"Okay, I'm going to take this one careful frame at a time. There's 24 frames in a second. And this film lasts how long? ... 1 hour and 40 minutes? ... Hmmm... Okay, let's rock!"
I thank every god in heaven that they found the inspiration, though, because this just would not have had the same effect were it purely live-action. It was like experiencing a lucid dream; just me and the screen, nothing else in the cinema existed.
I'm going to make these closing comments brief: A Scanner Darkly is the single most immersive experience I've ever had at a cinema. Essential viewing.
Posted on 8/21/06 02:22 PM
There are few stories I would consider ?epic?. There?s a certain factor to the term ?epic? nowadays which ends up derivative. It?s assumed that an epic would have a huge cast, vast locations, and would be set in some sort of specific period in history. Memoirs of a Geisha is an epic of a different mould; while it IS set in a specific, historic period, and it DOES feature vast locations, its story is the value which grabs that title. The sheer span of it, the characters, and events it encompasses, and the way it uses the life of Chiyo (Zhang Ziyi) to tell a number of stories and develop a series of characters. And develop them well, might I add. Every actors seems to fit their character like a glove; Zhang Ziyi embodies the innocence and determination of Chiyo, Ken Watanabe?s cool-headed, kind-hearted interpretation of the Chairman will have you falling for him almost instantly, and on the opposite end of the scale Gong Li is simply superb as the hateful and conniving Hatsumomo. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Koji Yakusho get a part in this film as business partner, Nobu. He regularly appears in films by brilliant Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa; I would advise you to checkout Kyua for another great performance by him. Casting, on a whole, was just superb.
Memoirs presented a subject matter which makes you work to admire it. I felt something of an inner-conflict as I understood more and more about the role of a geisha; ?walking art work? is what I believe they referred to themselves as. And, just like Chiyo, you find your mind questioning this definition; questioning how a human being can dedicate herself to a life where her only goal in this life is as arm candy for the highest paying male. The story is told so well, however, that by the end you resign yourself to the customs and traditions of the geisha. Especially when Japan succumbs to American armies in the midst of World War II; you witness the rape of Japanese heritage as American commercialism bleeds onto the country?s culture leaving it permanently stained. The character of Pumpkin represents every part of this, transforming from wannabe geisha to a party girl for all the American soldiers; sporting an American hairstyle and dress, and insisting on smoking only American cigarettes.
I haven?t read Arthur Golden?s novel, so I can?t cross reference between book and film, nor can I comment whether or not this is a faithful conversion. Rob Marshal has, however, created a fantastic film that sees just about every aspect of cinema, audio and visual, happily married. If the story and characters do not captivate you, then the glorious sets and beautiful score will. But then, who am I kidding? Every aspect of this film will captivate you! So just quit wasting your time, go out there, and see this gorgeous, insightful film for yourself.
Posted on 8/18/06 01:23 AM
I?m guessing when people heard the studios announce this feature-length conversion of the 80s cop drama they were thinking,
?Loads of guns? AND bright colours? AND cool 80s designer wear? AND Don Johnson? Fucking awesome!?
I?ll bet people went as far as thinking this would be a Starsky & Hutch-esque homage which poked fun at how over-the-top the original film was.
This is conclusive proof that people just should not think !
What more could be expected of Michael Mann than this tough, modern remix? A director who puts the kind of character and emotion into crime movies that you?re unlikely to see anywhere else. This was never going to be an answer to buddy cop movies like Bad Boys or Lethal Weapon, with two witty, comically-mismatched detectives playing off one another to reach a conclusive climax were they come to realise they are a great team after all. Fuck no! In fact Miami Vice 2006 is the antidote to such movies. It makes you work for so much that you?d be mistaken for thinking the new Crockett and Tubbs were even friends at all. There?s an unspoken bond between these two; a professional understanding. But Mann never intended for this to be The Crockett and Tubbs Story. This was never about their relationship. It?s about THEM. The individuals. Like so many Mann films to precede this, it?s a character study of the individual, as opposed to the collective. It?s Crockett?s life. It?s Tubbs? life. Their working relationship is merely a backseat to these stories. At its core Miami Vice is about alienation in a city where everyone is anonymous; lonely characters meet and form tentative bonds only to remain lonely, the only difference being that they?re lonely people together rather than lonely people apart.
This theme is highlighted beautifully in Michael Mann?s camera work. Using digital cameras was an inspired touch, as it allows for such a level of vibrancy, and makes the city of Miami as much a character in the movie as either of the film?s leads. It?s a level of understanding of the digital platform that leads Mann to excel from a technical perspective, and in such a way that he renders complete control of everything outside the scene as well as inside. For instance, there?s a scene quite early on where Crockett and Tubbs meet inside man Alonso at the side of a busy highway. They give him some tragic news, and suddenly the camera pans left, from Tubbs, to a shot of the highway which dips in and out of focus; the speech gets less audible and the sound of traffic gets louder. Alonso suddenly steps out in front of a vehicle and is run down. At that moment you realise you?ve just been watching things from Alonso?s perspective; you were inside his head as the grief caused him to blank out. This happens many times throughout Miami Vice and forces you inside the minds of the characters. It?s when you connect those dots that you realise you?re watching Mann at his most brilliant.
Now, I know I?ve talked the shit out of the positive aspects this movie has to offer. There ARE negative things I picked up on, such as the slightly contrived nature of some of the dialogue, and the criminally (no pun intended) lightweight role that Justin Theroux (who is awesome, by the way!) was cast in. BUT I don?t want to talk about those things, because I want you to see this movie. And I want you to understand how essential I think it is that you see this movie. Especially if you enjoyed Collateral, because this feels like an extension of that movie on some levels; it revisits some of the same themes, but, dare I say it, explores them to an even more introspective extent.
Don?t you dare sit down to watch this thinking it?s a buddy cop movies, however. It?s a crime thriller about collective alienation. Keep saying that to yourself over and over to remember if you have to. You will enjoy the film a shit-load more. Scouts honours.
Posted on 8/17/06 12:53 AM
There is something of an ego to Shyamalan. The way he writes, directs, even talks about his movies. What's frightening is how content he is believing the hype he manufactures for himself. He is quite willing to boast every element of his film in this overblown manner which I just find unbelievable, and it transcends his films in the way he writes characters. One obvious instance being the casting of himself as the would-be messiah, Vick, who writes a piece of literature "which will influence a young boy to go into politics. He will one day become a world leader, and reference Vick's book in many rallies and addresses". Hmmm, a powerful piece of work which influences a new generation to go forth and be great? What a fabulous coincidence that Shyamalan would grant himself such a role! In a more direct sense as well he creates a disposable film critic character who acts solely as a fuck you-vehicle to all the real-life critics who pan Night for adhering to a certain formula. My impression is that maybe, instead of parodying these people, he should be listening to them, and reaching the inevitable conclusion that MAYBE everything he says and does ISN'T infact gold dust. That maybe when people say there's something wrong with his movie it's for a reason, and not for the sake of being malicious or mean-spirited.
I mean... fuck! He has Christopher Doyle working this movie... CHRISTOPHER-FUCKING-DOYLE! Perhaps one of the best cinematographers this planet has to offer, and it STILL looks like a Shyamalan film. Visually I'd have a hard time seperating this from the likes of Sixth Sense or The Village. You hire a guy like Doyle with the intention of trusting the aesthetic of the movie to him. NOT so that you can force the guy to give you the same shots you were going to use anyway. Bar a few interesting camera techniques littered throughout - a pool point-of-view shot at the end stood out for me - Doyle seemed anonymous; a whole world away from In The Mood For Love or HERO.
I'm not going to sit here and pan the crap out of Lady in the Water, though. As much as I would love to! If it has one saving frace it is its casting; Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard are two actors who throw themselves into their roles with little restraint they make a haf-baked "fairytale" almost believable, and their supporting players (including a personal favourite of mine: Jeffery Wright) help construct an atmosphere where people are divided by the endearment of the fantasy and the rational of reality.
What Lady in the Water HAD was potential. I was all too willing to give myself to the idea this film embodied, but the fairytale was too overblown and riddled with holes for me to become immersed... Turns out plot twists ARE what make his movies after all. I'm hoping this time Shyamalan listens to what people have to say.