Bad Boys for Life
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Definitely different, but in being so different it never really hits any marks. It falls somewhere between a Harmony Korine film, Jackass & Pauly Shore is Dead. It's more of a ballsy move/stunt than a ballsy or intriguing film. Overall, I would equate it with Gus Van Sant's "Gerry" in that it is an interesting concept and I'm sure a worthy experiment for those involve to partake in, but not fulfilling for an audience.
This film has strengths and good points, but I ultimately found it to be unfocused, unbalanced and overly commercial. I was initially intrigued by the premise and reviews that depicted the film to be more than simply an overblown teen superhero film and I feel they were completely wrong. I don't deny the entertaining moments within the film and I have definitely seen much worse fare, but the filmmakers patronize audiences so much throughout the film I can't imagine it being intended for anyone who has graduated high school. The only thing "different" about this film than a standard teen superhero/action flick is the boosted language/violence factor which doesn't add much to the film. Hit Girl & Big Daddy were entertaining, but aren't the leads of the story and can't hold the loosely knit film together. I really wanted this film to be more than wall to wall flashy/pop-tunes congested/Mac promoting/commercialized teen geekdome, but it simply wasn't meant to be.
I won't say this is a great film in regards to what I feel embodies a truly overall "great film", but it embodies what I believe is necessary to separate a GOOD film from those people have mixed feelings over. My focus is on the opening scene of the film.
A slow motion sequence with classical music playing over it is something I can rarely imagine being acceptable post-Kubrick. To begin an "art film" with this technique is bold. It is bold because you are making a strong statement within the first 15 minutes of your film, a time which will give you instructions on how to read/view your film, that can ultimately destroy anything that follows. Somehow, whether it be cognitive or otherwise, Lars Von Trier seemed to realize that it was precisely what was necessary for him to successfully present this material. By opening with that level of pretentiousness, as well as the overall style of the film (framing the actors in very close shots, almost draping the background in shadow), I never felt the film was being literal or "real".
The film definitely takes a turn in the latter acts and pushes our buttons, but due to the way Von Trier builds up to these moments subtly throughout the film, those scenes never actually break the rules the film sets for itself. Even with the graphic sexuality and violence, Von Trier treads on thin ice, but manages to keep moving and not allow the ice to actually break. Imagine Gaspar Noe's "Irreversible" with a bit more understanding of restraint.
Much like with David Lynch's work, "Antichrist" gives you enough narrative to get you through the entire film without feeling completely lost while still allowing large areas of cryptic ambiguity. I'm certain there are various layers of metaphor and symbolism in this film that literary research and multiple viewings can uncover, but it is possible to digest on a very surface level.
Ultimately, everything I have read from critics about this film are borderline truths. It is not always an enjoyable film and I have to admit that there are moments that you want to say "WTF?! Was that really necessary?!" and the answer I eventually came to was that it works within this particular film. You could tell this story through the eyes of another writer/director who would back away from certain areas and indulge in others, but it would inevitably result in watery mush/ shit. Again, returning to Noe's "Irreversible", I am very torn between excess and brilliance, but with "Antichrist" there is honestly less exploitation involved and more exploration which seems to be the essence of Lars Von Trier's work.
Enjoyable at times, visually engrossing at times, but never really seduces you in the way it believes it is seductive. I first believed the film to be pompous with its over-stylized visual effects, but began to view the presentation as more of a comic book format. I feel that letting go of preconceptions of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" the novel and viewing it as a graphic novel adaptation is much more appropriate and satisfying. However, this is also unfortunate because for all the effort put in to visual presentation there is very little emotion or horror involved. Coppola gets lost in his "romanticism" of Dracula as a tragic character that you never feel anything for the character, let alone sympathy or fear. He is a flimsy character that never grounds himself well enough to stir emotion. Outside the well painted exterior there is a hollow core, as Gary Oldman quite fittingly states, "There is no life in this body... "
The downfall of this film is that all the aspects presented to you as reasons to watch the film are what displease you the most. Outside the lackluster "3-D" selling point, Johnny Depp provides a most uninteresting and impotent character of the "Mad" Hatter. The steak in the heart of this beast is that there really is so little plot that it truly is a nostalgia piece reminding us of a much much more interesting prequel.