Archive for the movies Category

Gentleman Broncos

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Parker Connell

It was around the time that Sam Rockwell sporting a pink unitard and speaking in an offensively cliché gay lisp, picked up a flat cow turd and ate it that I realized that Gentleman Broncos wasn’t really intended to entertain anyone. If anyone is entertained it is purely incidental. The writing in Gentleman Broncos feels like a five year old heard his first fart joke and immediately wrote a movie. Everything is unnecessarily gross and mildly hateful.

I don’t want to say that Gentleman Broncos is the ugliest film I’ve ever seen, but if Trashhumpers didn’t exist Gentleman Broncos would be the ugliest film I’ve ever seen, but at least Trashhumpers had the benefit of being ugly on purpose.

Michael Angarano plays the main character of this movie and that is just too bad. Mr. Angarano has in his short career made been in some pretty great movies, Snow Angels, Sky High, that one movie where Jet Li and Jackie Chan fight each other or some bullshit, Red State, and in this he is totally wasted, as is Sam Rockwell. The only person that comes out of this not appearing bad at there job is Jemaine Clement, who completely buys into the role of Ronald Chevalier and crafts the only character worth watching. In a different, more perfect world, I different writing/directing team would have created Chevalier and made a decent send-up of the notoriously absurd and conceited world of sci-fi novelists. Instead we are stuck with a movie that revels in unearned testicle jokes and unfunny homophobia.

This movie is funny like reminiscing with your elementary school friends about all the poop jokes and girls you used to like, not very funny for anyone else to watch and even the people who experienced it should realize that “One of the lasers hit my boob” screamed by a man in drag isn’t very funny. The whole stupid affair reeks of kids swearing in the cafeteria, none of them really knows what it means and aren’t really committing to the vulgarity just in case adults are listening.

On the topic of puke jokes: I love puke jokes, and in my naïveté I thought all puke jokes were funny, my ignorance was brought to light by Gentleman Broncos, and I hate it for this reason.

There is quite a bit of unhappiness at the filmmakers Hess. After Napoleon Dynamite became the Juno of that year (what was the pre 2008 version of “This years Juno”? “This years Scent of A Woman” maybe?) people started getting down on the husband and wife Mormon moviemaking team, I didn’t bye into it, sure Napoleon Dynamite got old pretty quick and doesn’t hold up, but I still hold Nacho Libre (the couples second film) as one of the funnier movies around. I say all this in order to offset any claims that I was predetermined to hate Gentleman Broncos, which is the very opposite of the truth, the makers of this movie failed in their own right with no help from bias.

The main problem this movie has in terms of “integrity” (or whatever term you’d use for the category of thing sin the writer/director has control over) is that none of it is original. Each of its three acts have their own half assed story arc each stolen from better movies. The first act, taken from Hess’s own Napoleon Dynamite, is about an awkward teen’s romance with an awkward girl. Both movies main characters obviously have little or no experience talking to girls but where Napoleon was a begrudgingly sweet story of weirdoes finding each other Gentleman Broncos’ love story is a mean one where the girl takes advantage of the boy’s earnestness.

The second act is about Michael Angarano selling his book, The Yeast Lords (everything about this movie is off putting), to a local filmmaking group. It is at it’s heart a rip off of Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, and what a cold, dead heart it is. Be Kind Rewind is a flawed but entertaining film simply because of the creativity of it’s direction, and the simple sweet nature of it’s performances and script. The production of The Yeast Lords has all the surface appearance of a “sweded” movie from Be Kind Rewind (dolls standing in for special effects, using men to play women, bad line readings) but instead of the sense of community the view felt during Be Kind Rewind, Gentleman Broncos urges us to laugh at it’s would be filmmakers, Hess and his cohorts go out of there way to say “Look at these idiots, they think they can make a movie.” Which is ironic, I suppose, because the piss poor production of The Yeast Lords is only slightly more terrible than Gentleman Broncos.

The third act is stolen whole cloth from the Frankie Muniz/Paul Giamatti family vehicle Big Fat Liar, where a corporate bigwig steals a short story and attempts to make big money off it. In Gentleman Broncos, Jemaine Clement steals Michael Anganaro’s sci fi book The Yeast Lord and repurposes it only slightly to become Brutus and Balzaak (one of many really lame jokes about testicles featured in this movie). I have very little good to say in terms of Big Fat Liar except that Gentleman Broncos belongs in the small group of films categorically worse than Big Fat Liar.

 

Red State

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2011 by Parker Connell

Who knew foul-mouthed, king of the slackers Kevin Smith had a movie like Red State in him?  Once known pretty much exclusively for masterful creation of dick and fart jokes Mr. Smith has come out with one of the best thrillers in recent memory.

After the cinematic turd known as Cop Out I was ready to cast Smith aside, and any hopes I had for his next film Red State were pretty much thrown out the window. Then the first trailer came out. It looked gritty and visceral, more Rob Zombie than Kevin Smith, and that creepy voice over by Michael Parks, had me interested, but then thoughts of Bruce Willis telling unfunny jokes during poorly shot and edited car chases danced in my head and I filed my curiosity away.

Well here I sit eating my words.  Red State is an expertly made thriller about religious fanatics think Fred Phelps meets Waco. Three teens are kidnapped after being tricked with the promise of sex. Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) and his flock intend on punishing the three deviants for their wicked thoughts and actions. Soon things escalate and ATF is called to the scene

The story is something that has been seen before, but not in movies very often, this sort of thing happens in the news. Where Smith surprises is in his direction. Usually Smith focuses on the writing and the direction, cinematography, and pacing are left on the back burner. In Red State we have dynamic camera work, and one or two scene that are tenser than anything I’ve seen in years. Never before has Smith had me on the edge of my seat but here I was hold my breath, can’t look away, holy shit what is going to happen, tense for long stretches of the movie.

That isn’t to say that the writing suffers. Red State features some of Smith’s best writing since Dogma (it seems religion gets the best out of him) and it seems he benefits from the almost complete lack of dick and fart jokes.

As far as acting this is really a one-man show for Michael Parks who is allowed long speeches about scripture and “the homosexual” and it’s really enthralling and disturbingly entertaining. John Goodman does well as the ATF agent in charge and Kevin Pollak has a good moment followed by a great moment. The teens are good and Kevin Smith seems to understand how actual modern 18 year olds act and talk.

Perhaps Red State is a fluke, or a momentary rest from his standard output, either way I feel safe in saying that aside from Clerks, Red State will be the one Kevin Smith is remembered for in the long term. Short term it’s a great movie.

Super

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by Parker Connell

A trend I hope everyone has noticed with the recent influx of super hero and comic book films is the post-modern deconstruction of super hero and comic book films.  From Kick-Ass to Special these films take a skewed realistic look a how life would be if people put on a suit and tried to make the streets safe once again. Super is one such film, and it is also likely the perfect post-modern deconstruction of super hero and comic book films.

James Gunn wrote and directed this pitch-pitch-pitch black comedy about Frank (Rainn Wilson) an uninteresting, neurotic, and strange man who all his life felt out of place until a co-worker (Liv Tyler) takes an interest in him. She has a dark past and when the film starts it catches up with her again in the form of Jock (Kevin Bacon). She leaves Frank, which causes him to lose it. In one of the more disturbing and visually brilliant scenes of the film (of which there are many) Frank his touched by “The tip of the tip of the finger of God” which leads Frank to believe his duty to the planet is to put on a costume and tell crime to shut up.

What follows is a pretty much non-stop spree of weirdly depressing violence. I found my self simultaneously cheering on the insanity like it was a Robert Rodriguez movie and squirming like it was an episode of Extras. Rainn Wilson’s Crimson Bolt is an insane creation; imagine if Travis Bickle grew up on Batman and the Punisher, and the addition of his kid sidekick Bolty (Ellen Page) creates possibly the most uncomfortable sexual tension this side of… everything, I have never seen a movie with a more disturbed sexual subplot, ever.

I’ve recently come to fall in love with Kevin Bacon and Super is the latest in his attempt to become… I don’t know, this generation’s Walken… except without the self-parody. His performance as the bad guy Jock is hilarious and deranged and I loved every minute. Same goes for Michael Rooker as Bacon’s right hand, he isn’t given much to do but in true Rooker fashion he makes you notice him.

The effects in this film are perfect. I don’t know if the effects were practical or done in post, I’m leaning toward practical because there are some scenes of violence and gore in this film that are truly disturbing in a way that CG gore has yet to achieve. I couldn’t tell you if the gore is over the top because I’ve never seen someone get hit in the forehead with a pipe wrench, but I imagine it looks quite a bit like it does in Super.

Many people will come away from this film feeling dirty and depressed. Hell I did and my favorite movie starts with a rape, but don’t think this wasn’t intentional. If you look at what Gunn has done here is showing us what super heroes really are. Yeah we like Batman when he punches the Joker or drops a Mafioso from a second story building, and some people (not me) enjoy the adventures of Spider-man, but this sort of vigilantism is not a healthy exercise, and Super is showing us what Kick-Ass should have that there is nothing really good or rational about people putting on masks and taking the law into their own hands.

That isn’t to say that Super will change the way you look at super hero movies. James Gunn is just presenting another way to look at them, and unlike Kick-Ass, Super doesn’t drop the ball in it’s last act, there are no rah rah girl power montages set to Joan Jett songs or bullshit Jet Packs. This is the closest thing to real life as you can get from a super hero movie, and you know what, I love it.

The Girlfriend Experience & Full Frontal

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by Parker Connell

Soderweek continues for me with The Girlfriend Experience and Full Frontal. Both films could (and should) be considered lesser Soderbergh films due to their loose storytelling and their short run times. Neither of those are bad things,especially the short run times which made it much easier to get through them. These are two essentially Soderbergh experiments and as such they are successes.

Both GFE and Full Frontal are short slice of life yarns about people in some kind of entertainment industry. GFE is a drama about a really high-class prostitute (played by Sasha Grey) and Full Frontal is a comedy about people in and around Hollywood.

The Girlfriend Experience wasn’t as good as Full Frontal simply because I didn’t care about any other character outside of Sasha Grey’s girlfriend for money Christine. Pretty much every character is a super rich business type and since the film is set on the cusp of the economic crisis and the 2008 presidential election all they do is complain about money and who would be better for there money.

Full Frontal was better to me because the cast was pretty great and I’m just more interested in th film industry than I am prostitution, especially the kind of prostitution that costs over 2 grand a date and has no dependence on crack. Probably the most entertaining part of Full Frontal for me was Blair Underwood and Julia Roberts starring in a romantic comedy within the film and then Blair Underwood’s character starring in a David Fincher film within the romantic comedy (complete with cameo from both Fincher and Brad Pitt). It was funny, and it actually kind of hurt my brain. Also the sub plot about the always great Enrico Colantoni putting on a weirdly pretentious play about Hitler starring the equally as great Nicki Katt was laugh out loud funny.

All in all both films succeeded in their own ways, The Girlfriend Experience was very nice to look at but ultimately hollow, and Full Frontal was ugly as sin but had some interesting things to say about creative people, but honestly I don’t think I’d ever like to watch them again.

Solaris

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by Parker Connell

I am starting a new tradition for movie fans. I think of it a bit like a pilgrimage one might make if they were religious, you know if your religion was based around good movies, which mine is. This filmgrimage is called Soderweek and this is how you go about accomplishing it. For seven days you must watch as many Steven Soderbergh films as you can. They don’t have to be the only movies you watch, but they should make up the majority of them for those seven days. The other rule of Soderweek is that you must watch at least 2 Steven Soderbergh films that you have never seen before. If for some reason you have already seen all of Steven Soderbergh’s films (which I find unlikely unless you are in fact Steven Soderbergh, in which case hello Mr. Soderbergh I really enjoyed The Informant, and I hope those rumors about you retiring soon are false.) you have to get a friend (or enemy) to watch 2 Soderbergh films with you that they have not seen. The most exciting part about Soderweek, like any religious pilgrimage, is that it is a wholly personal experience; you choose the week when you will do it. It is written that you must complete at least one Soderweek in your lifetime but it is recommended by the Elder Gods that you make as many Soderweek pilgrimages as possibly. I have chosen the week starting Feb 7th and ending Feb 14th as my first Soderweek, and the first film I watched was Solaris.

Solaris is a surprisingly great film. It’s a simple sci-fi story about a shrink (Cloon the goon) who has to take trip to a space ship that has stopped all contact. The ship is orbiting a celestial body known as Solaris. Solaris is a strange entity that nobody understands and when Clooney gets there he finds half the crew dead and the other half slowly being driven mad by the power of Solaris.

Any description of this film will make it sound much more intense and science fictiony than it is, but like 2001 (a film that obviously influenced Soderbergh in the making of this film) Solaris is a much subtler more subdued thing. Really this film is about one man coming to terms with the death of someone he loved, set against the always interesting back drop of madness from the vastness and intense alienness of the cosmos.

The film also stars Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, and Natascha McElhone, and that is pretty much it. Personally I love Jeremy Davies in this and pretty much everything, he is just a fascinating person to watch, and his fidgety pause filled delivery is perfect for a Space Madness film. Viola Davis is also quite good she plays the other surviving crewmember and while she is just as crazy as Davies she plays it exactly the opposite, she is always stone still and very unassuming. McElhone plays Clooney’s lost love in both flashbacks and as a projection of Clooney’s memory via Solaris. McElhone has the tough job of being simultaneously off-putting to the audience but believable as somebody Clooney would immediately fall back in love even though he knows she is dead and she pulls it off perfectly.

As a sci-fi fan I was disappointed a bit with the way Soderbergh pushed aside most possibilities for some great sci-fi, but by the end I got what he was trying to get across. This isn’t a film about space and alien life it is about memory, and death, and love, and big themes that have been explored before, but in my opinion any theme is better if it is explored on a space ship.

Flicks Looking Forward: Spring 2011

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by Parker Connell

Okay folks I’m sorry to say I do not have a review ready for you on this Wednesday, but I made a promise that I would update at least once a week on Wednesday and I plan to stick to it. Hopefully I will have a review for The King’s Speech soon and that will be posted as soon as it is finished.

Until then I’d like to say a little bit about the films coming out in the spring of this year. In the coming weeks I’ll do a few more posts about the summer and fall, and maybe winter, who knows. Enjoy!

Drive Angry (February 25th) – Yes it looks unbelievably stupid, yes Nic Cage looks to be playing the guy from Bangkok Dangerous, yes it’s actually called Drive Angry, but watch the trailer and then tell me it doesn’t look like it’ll be worth every cent. Plus it was filmed in 3D none of this post-3D-ification Clash of the Airbenders nonsense.

Rango (March 4th) – I haven’t been this excited for a kids movie since Where the Wild Things Are. I don’t think Rango will be as good, but man Rango looks fun as hell. It’s really nice to see worthwhile CG projects coming out of a studio not named Disney.

The Adjustment Bureau (March 4th) – I really want this movie to be good. I know it won’t be good, but damn it could be. It looks to straight-laced to be a great PKD adaptation (like Minority Report or A Scanner Darkly) but a bit too weird to get the Matt Damon soccer mom crowd. I probably won’t be seeing this until it’s on Netflix Instant

Mars Needs Moms (March 11th) – Just kidding this looks really stupid.

Battle: LA (March 11th) – I only know the bare bones of this flick, but I can’t imagine it goes much deeper than aliens attack. I’m mildly interested to see this, if only for Aaron Eckhart and maybe a solid Military Sci-Fi story.

Jane Eyre (March 11th) – In my The Kids Are All Right review I made some big proclamations about Mia Wasikowsk, the big one being that I would see anything and everything she does from now on. Well this Bronte adaptation is hr next work so I guess I’m gonna have to eat my shoe on that one. For I am mostly a man of my word, mostly.

Paul (March 18th) – When I first heard about this flick I was mad excited, and each new sliver of information that was released over the following 2 years was met with enthusiasm. Then the first trailer came out and I had my first twang of worry, then the second trailer came out and I have pretty much given up on this flick.

Sucker Punch (March 25th) – March 25th cannot come soon enough, I am so unbelievably stoked for this outrageous looking movie. I’ve enjoyed everything Snyder has done in the past and this, his first original work, looks to be his best most entertaining flick. 2011 has a lot of lackluster looking action flick but hopefully Sucker Punch can redeem them.

Source Code (April 1st) – Everything about this movie screams cookie cutter light sci-fi thriller, but, I am excited for this film simply by virtue of it’s director Duncan Jones the man who brought us Moon. Also it has Jeffrey Wright the best actor alive not named Robert Duvall.

Your Highness (April 8th) – Could be great like Eastbound and Down, could be pretty good like Pineapple Express, but it could be awful. I’m hoping for greatness, and expecting pretty goodness, but there is a reason Willow 2 was never made.

Thor (May 6th) – Of the big budget Superhero flicks coming out this year Thor is the only one I want to see. The lead looks good, Natalie Portman is a talented actress who can hold her own against everyone in the cast. Plus nobody is wearing weird ugly CG clothes.

So that pretty much covers the movies I want to see in the springtime. Maybe I’ve sparked your interest in an upcoming film, maybe I made you decide not to see another, at the very least I hope I have entertained you momentarily.

 

Buried

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , on January 26, 2011 by Parker Connell

Forget what I said last week and move every movie on my best of 2010 list down one (sorry Babies) because Buried is my favorite film of 2010. This unbelievably tight thriller stars Ryan Reynolds as a guy trapped in a coffin and that is all I feel comfortable saying in terms of plot, if I were to speak a single syllable more on what this film is about I could possibly ruin your film going experience and I don’t want to do that. Not that it would make the film any less of a masterwork because I’ve seen it twice and can tell you that the second time through is just as engaging and maddening.

Everything about this film is incredibly well crafted, it’s a literal movie translation of Occam’s Razor in that ever aspect of the film is down to the bare minimum and this works to give the film a fresh, unhindered, free quality not seen in other “man trapped in one spot” movies (I’m looking at you 127 Hours).

The minimalistic quality of the film helps to keep your mind on the subject and the freedom Rodrigo Cortes as director and editor has given himself keeps the “gimmick” of Buried from killing it. That gimmick being that you never leave the coffin and are never more than a few inches away from Ryan Reynolds’s (wicked handsome) body.

Sure parts of the flick get a little political, but in the end, you forgive it for two reasons. A) Everything these days is a little political because like war and poverty man, and B) we can forgive it because it never gets in the way of the unbelievably tense story.

That is the best part about Buried, it never lets up, and I mean never. At one point you think it’s letting up, you feel like you might get a moment to breath and calm yourself, but then “No” says Buried, “Fuck you” it shouts at it runs off with your nerves and emotions in a tiny bag, a bag which Buried then pees on and sets fire to.

The first time I saw this film (being last Sunday) I wanted to tell everyone I knew to see it. The second time I saw it (being the Tuesday after my first viewing) I was actually a little upset that everyone I knew hadn’t already seen it. I film like this deserves a wide audience more than any of the crappy movies that came to my theater over the past year, and it worries me that since so few people have actually heard of Buried that now that it’s out on DVD and Blu Ray they’ll think it’s some straight to video piece of garbage. My only hope is that every person who loved Reynolds in The Proposal rents this and instead of being confused (like fans of Sandra Bullock films would normally be when faced with a film with zero jokes about underpants) they are hit with a sudden case of intelligence and enjoy this flick.

Speaking of The Proposal (or whatever crappy movie Reynolds was last in), Buried pretty much redeems him for every previous sin he’s committed against filmed entertainment. The movie totally depends on the performance of its main character because he is (excepting about 3 seconds) the only person on screen for the entire 90 minutes. If the performance had been anything short of great, this review would be entirely different, but as it stands Reynolds knocked it out of the park, using some real, honest to god, acting skillz. It’s just too bad that his next flick after this is the one where all his acting will be computer generated.

I cannot recommend this flick anymore highly; you owe it to yourself as a respectable human being to see it as soon as possible.