Sunday, September 7, 2008

Review Roundup: Death Race, Man On Wire , Hamlet 2

Greeting, Movies et al fans! Crazy stuff has been happening at Movies et al! And by crazy stuff, I mean: 1. Movies et al's piece about the Golden Age of TV was highlighted on IMDB, which led 6500+ people to visit the site, most of whom left a vicious comment suggesting that yours truly should not be allowed to talk about TV as I don't like Seinfeld. My favorite comment suggested that the writer of the piece be fired. Yeah, so, I decided not to fire the writer of that particular post, but I've decided to reduce his salary to nothing. Poor bastard is just gonna keep writing, but never get paid.

2. I had to grade some papers and deal with students, and stopped posting for a week! Sorry. I'll be better in the future. At the very least, Film Ignorance will keep going strong, as will Western Star of the Week, which will restart next week after a break for noir month. I know you've missed it, Ibetolis!

I'll also try to keep up with the reviews, which I've been slack about. For now, a quick paragraph about the three films I saw most recently. I might revive the "mini-review" format, but right now the reviews I write are about the same length as my original mini-reviews. So, here are some mini-mini-reviews.

1. Death Race

Halfway through the first of Death Race's three races, I realized something: I was enjoying this damn movie. I had no right to enjoy it. It had all the hallmarks of a Paul W.S. Anderson movie: terrible characters, worse dialogue, an incomprehensible plot. But somewhere along the way, he learned how to actually film and edit an action sequence. And I loved this film's cars, the races, and the vicious sadism that other movies pretend to have but always fail to actually bring. Our hero Jason Statham hates somebody, so he breaks their neck on national television. This is a movie that never went soft. And in a great piece of irony, it's Joan Allen, not Ian McShane, who says the word "cocksucker." Actually, she says "Cocksucker, you fuck with me and we'll see who shits on the sidewalk." Classic.

2.Man on Wire

The best documentary I have seen since...Bright Leaves? Fog of War? Ever? This is a masterpiece about a crazy Frenchman who, upon hearing that the Twin Towers are going to be built, immediately decides that he has to walk a tightrope between them. I can't explain why he feels that way, but this is a caper film and a half, the real life story of a team of deranged artists who break into the WTC so that their resident crazy/genius can walk on a tightrope between the towers. One of the most beautiful, and also most troubling, portraits of an artist that I have ever seen. And Phillipe Petit, our titular man on wire, is truly an artist. Provisionally, having only seen this film, I would call him one of the great artists of the 20th century. He was a guerrilla artist, three decades before the site of his art would become famous for terrorism. Petit imagined a world in which boundaries and rules were broken for the sake of art, not ideology. As a child of the 80s and 90s, I find it hard to believe such a world existed, but documentaries like Man on Wire assure me that it's all true..

3. Hamlet 2

It's like School of Rock, except not funny. It's also dull. Cliched. Tedious. Stupid. A complete and total waste of time, except for Steve Coogan's vicious wife (Catherine Keener) and dim-witted roommate (David Arquette). Keener, one of our best leading ladies, is not given much to do but is great in her few scenes, taking Coogan's no-talent ass-clown apart. Arquette is even better - his inane dialogue (I think he has only four lines) is so deadpan I don't know how he kept a straight face. His first line is "It's a sunny day outside" and his last one is "I left you a protein shake in the fridge. It's strawberry." His dialogue and character are so deprived of meaning as to be hysterical. The rest of the movie is just deprived of comedy.


Fox said...

I'm in complete agreement with you on Hamlet 2. It reeked of humor that was trying way too hard, and of jokes that were about eight years too old.

Ha. That's awesome about the TV post. It's always a sign of a good job, methinks, when you can really piss someone off with your opinions. It's means your being honest, and probably also hitting a nerve that said pissed off person doesn't want to cop too.

Graham said...

Yeah Fox, that's a great description of Hamlet 2. Trying too hard, with material that would have seemed fresh sometime around 1997.

I can't believe how upset people got upset about the Seinfeld thing. It was amazing.

Fletch said...

Glad you enjoyed MoW. I rated it similarly. It's a rare film that awed me while watching it, and I compared Petit to a superhero. The guy's amazing.

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