Monthly Archives: September 2010

Reality, Celebrity Culture, and Inner Light in “I’m Still Here”

If you are here to read a strict review of the “Joaquin Phoenix documentary” you’ll have to go somewhere else.  The film is operating on levels reminiscent of  The Brothers Bloom because you have no idea how to differentiate between reality and performance, and are left bereft of any concrete narrative to critique.

However, if you’re here searching for thoughts about the film, step right into my office.

My initial impression was that Phoenix was proclaiming his self-importance with the title I’m Still Here, a defiant cry to some crowd that, “You can’t hold me!  I’m still here (bitches)!”  This was supplanted by an interpretation more along lines of, “Uh…why are you talking about me like that?  I’m still here.”  At the film’s heart are the ways Phoenix sets himself up for the type of criticism he receives, and how much is fueled by celebrity culture.

First and foremost, Phoenix appears to have serious issues.  I mean this not at all in a judgmental fashion, just as an interpretation of what appears on-screen.  Phoenix performs a giddy jig at the prospect of a line of coke and two prostitutes; the way he speaks suggests one too many shots of rum; and the way he reacts to other people, in word and deed, does not suggest a sound mind.  Silence follows him at the film’s end, but the rest of the time we see him as a crazed hobo crying, yelling, and consuming various substances. Continue reading

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Ben Affleck’s “The Town” delivers

Promotion for The Town touts it as “from the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone” which appears to be a deliberate dodge to avoid naming the film’s director – Ben Affleck.  The concern being that if people see that Ben Affleck directed the picture – a guy possibly most famous for his previous relationship with Jennifer Lopez – it won’t be taken seriously.  Given that Affleck has delivered the goods with two films now, maybe his directorial work can come out of the fine print.

A group of robbers from the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown knock over a bank, taking bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage.  Concerned that Claire might have seen something, trigger happy James (Jeremy Renner) wants Doug (Ben Affleck) to follow her movements to ensure they’re in the clear.  When Doug starts seeing Claire, tensions between Doug and his crew flare while FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) steadily builds the pressure.

As a whole this is a good heist film.  It kicks off with tornadic fury and keeps the film moving with other robberies.  Affleck stands out as the nice thief to Renner’s twitchy James who is a territorial pug you do not want to try and pet.  Continue reading

“Devil” not that bad

The trailers for Devil proclaim “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” which seems to be a purposeful attempt to disavow Shyamalan’s involvement in the directing, producing, and writing side of things after previous bombs (Lady in the Water, The Happening).  The result: a company called the Night Chronicles, which produces films based on ideas from M. Night that are further developed by other individuals.  Devil, the first of the Night Chronicles, overall manages to stay afloat (though at times some bailing is required).

In the film five strangers hop on an elevator together and once it locks up between floors, tensions flare.  Detective Bowden and the building’s security watch the group devolve into bickering children through a security camera, only able to speak to them through the one way com system.

I say “devolve,” but there isn’t a transition for these people – as soon as they’re aboard the elevator they quickly reveal themselves to be stupid assholes.  Continue reading

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” wants to be SO COOL!, fails

When Resident Evil: Extinction came out in 2007, I was able to attend a sneak preview with some friends in tow.  How was it?  The poor souls who came with me to that screening still do not forgive me for their experience seeing a free movie.  Resident Evil: Afterlife is just as painful.

Imagine a thirteen-year-old boy who has never seen a film in his entire life.  Until one day he sees The Matrix. If he were to immediately make a film of his own following that one awesome experience, it would look a lot like Resident Evil: Afterlife.  Techno bombards you, slow-mo draws out action moments, and all bullets hit their target save for the ones aimed at the protagonist.  Anytime one of these elements drops into the film, you can just hear the director Paul W.S. Anderson saying, “ISN’T THIS SO COOL?!”  This of course is what makes the film so damn annoying.  Didn’t we all hate the kid who tried to be so cool?

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“Machete” rains blood and hilarity

Danny Trejo has been playing Machete for over fifteen years.  Introduced in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado as Navajas (“jack knife” according to my translation), Machete has cropped up throughout the Rodriguez universe as “Uncle Machete” in the Spy Kids films and as “Cuchillo” (Spanish for knives) in the Rodriguez produced Predators.  Of course it was the mock trailer for Machete featured in Grindhouse that made movie nerds piss themselves with glee over such a ridonkulous (that’s right, redonkulous) movie.  And Rodriguez decided to serve it right up with a full length treatment. Continue reading

More faux-trailers from Grindhouse receiving full length treatment?

Over at Rope of Silicon, they’ve posted a re-vamped version of the Grindhouse fake trailer, Hobo with a Shotgun.  If you didn’t see it, you’re probably in the U.S. as it was a trailer screened mostly in Canada.  The original trailer fit the Grindhouse experience with a ridiculous title that matched its content:

Just like Machete, the trailer has birthed a full length film.  The trailer for the feature has been released – featuring Rutger Hauer as the hobo with a shotgun.

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Fall(ish) Movie Preview: September

The summer film season is coming to a close, but there is plenty to look forward to. Here is your complete mega movie fall preview.

:author’s note:

I believe that trailers reveal so much information that it can spoil or at least impede the experience of watching a film for the first time. I would recommend avoiding trailers if you know you’re going to see a film. If you’re unsure of a film, however, be my guest.

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