The Coen Brothers continue to confound me. Enjoyable film, really well made... but what's the point of remaking True Grit? And in such a straight way? Other than to make money and win awards? Fine, I suppose, but like their last few films, enjoyable at the time but instantly forgettable
Ok, so now there are two David Fincher films that I can say I like pretty much unreservedly. This is textbook stuff, making a potentially dry and nerdy subject absolutely gripping - two hours go by in a flash.
Despite its best efforts to be cool, trendy, knowing, post-modern and self-conscious in its references, Kick-Ass is really just another ultra-violent superhero movie â but at least it's a good superhero movie. Yes, it caters towards fanboys with some gratuitous slavering over busty women, its smart-ass references towards movies and comics, but it does so in a way that is amusing and humorous and it (mostly) works. It would probably like to think of itself as a clever satire on the comic industry, but it really lacks the necessary bite, abandoning any even half-serious exploration of how superheroes would act in the real world pretty quickly for a standard action comic plot of heroes and villains. Consequently it's also not as self-important as The Watchmen, but it's certainly as violent, and just as well staged in its action sequences which are as fluid and imaginative as the best Frank Miller graphics (Daredevil and Elektra come to mind with these characters). It's not as clever as it likes to think it is, but Kick-Ass is hugely entertaining nonetheless.
A serial fraudster, trickster and petty criminal whose talent is so exceptional that he can even bend the authorities to his will while in prison and, when the time is right, fool them into letting him escape, the larger-than-life character of Steven Russell seems tailor-made for Jim Carrey, a comedy actor with the ability to push things to the limit. I Love You Phillip Morris certain does that from a number of perspectives, not least of which is its strange, absurd and unconventional central romance between Steven and Phillip, which really does push the boundaries of how gay relationships are depicted in mainstream American movies without being overly explicit.
As delightfully subversive as it is, it doesnât quite work, though itâs through no fault of Carrey, who is persuasively charismatic or Ewan MacGregor, even though he is considerably less convincing. The relationship doesnât quite works on the screen, not so much on account of the acting as in the relating of Russell's schemes that he commits in the name of love. As outlandish as some of them are and regardless of the fact that they are all - the film assures us - completely true, these parts of the film and its flashback structure come across as rather more conventional. The gaps suggest that there is a lot more that has gone on, but they leave gaps also in the characterisation and in the relationship between the two men. But this is a fun and entertaining movie nonetheless.
Greengrass tackles a serious subject and thereâs no doubting his conviction to expose the truth behind the manufacturing of evidence of WMD as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq, but presentation of the facts through the medium of an action movie proves to be woefully inadequate and ultimately counter-productive. With Matt Damon single-handedly acting as one man determined to get to truth in a world of political lies and corruption, with Brendan Gleeson providing the support as the honest and friendly-face of the CIA looking out for what is best for the Iraqi nation to pull it out of the post-war crisis, Greengrass over-simplifies the matter, each of the other characters similarly fitting into well-worn conventional movie stereotypes.
As a man-hunt action movie, itâs not that hot either with there being no moral ambiguity and no real sense of the danger that comes with being in Iraq at that time that The Hurt Locker, for all its failure to address the important political issues, at least palpably achieved. Thatâs certainly disappointing from the team that brought us The Bourne Identity. Worst of all, with all its concessions to standard Hollywood plotting and characterisation, Green Zone comes across as simply a fictitious political thriller in an Iraqi setting