Category Archives: Trailers

It Will Have Blood

They say, blood will have blood.

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It’s not what you think it is.

The increasingly subtle Clint Eastwood continues to astound me with his film craftsmanship. You could say that his entire career, as actor and director, has been a progressively thoughtful exploration of violence and the effects of violence, the unseen costs of violence, and the lingering consequences of violence. In American Sniper, he’s made a film so well that pretty much everybody in the country completely missed the point of it. It’s an astoundingly disturbing portrait of how an environment of continuous war dehumanizes not only the people we send to fight it, but the people who cheer them on from the distant homeland, far removed from the day-to-day realities of that war. The problem is that the reaction to the film has proven that the film’s point is on target, if you’ll excuse the expression. In a way, the popularity of the film in certain hawkish circles is as eloquent a statement on how disconnected the people are from the realities of the violence committed in their name; similarly, the wave of disgust for the film in more left-leaning circles demonstrates a distinct inability to process any commentary less subtle than a sledgehammer – small wonder when what passes for ‘politically incorrect’ these days is the decidedly bland non-personality Bill Maher. I have no doubt that in years to come, when it can be viewed outside of the entrenched partisan ideologies that have misdefined it, American Sniper will be seen as one of the most insightful anti-war films ever made, a chilling exploration of the dehumanization society suffers through publicly-approved slaughter.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

First comic book movie of the year that I’ve seen: Kingsman: The Secret Service, which was a pleasant surprise for February, where studios send crappy movies off to die unnoticed deaths. It’s a fantastic concept that’s so obvious that it seems odd nobody ever did it before, and a surprising commentary on money, class, aristocracy, elitism, and that peculiar habit people have of thinking that other people are expendable towards their noble goals. It’s not as smart as Kick-Ass, by any means, but it is a fun ride and a fantastic spy film.

I also feel vindicated in thinking, back in the day, that a “James Bond, Jr.” movie would totally have worked. It helps that the cast was a parade of awesome British actors who would never be chosen to be James Bond getting to be James Bond:

> Colin Firth, who gets to unleash in one of the most spectacular orgies of violence I’ve ever seen on screen… But Bond? Naaah. Call him when you’re ready to do another Harry Palmer film, though, definitely. Or when you’re ready to do a new “Avengers” (or possibly a new “New Avengers“).

kingsman-the-secret-service-colin-firth-suits

> Jack Davenport: Okay, granted, everybody likes this guy, and he very rarely seems to get to be Super-Awesome Action Guy, so it was fun seeing him in full-on James Bond/Jason Bourne mode. I doubt that (Darkman nonwithstanding) anyone suspected that Liam Neeson would have a run as Super-Awesome Action Guy, either, though, so it’s not too late for Jack. Maybe as our new Simon Templar? He’s got the charm.

> Mark Strong: Are you trying not to be the bad guy all the time, Mark? Remember, the last time you tried to be a spy on the side of the angels you got yourself shot. Bond is probably forever out of your grasp, but a Bond villain, on the other hand…. Now we’re talking.

> Taron Egerton: He’s very young, obviously, but I don’t see it happening. Loads of personality, though – He’s your working-man’s hero, more John McClain than James Bond. What would the British Die Hard series be? Snuff It? Bollocks!? Brown Bread? Not ‘ardly, Mate?

Of course Michael Caine was already Harry Palmer, so no regrets there. And he used to bring Batman his tea, which has to count for something. Also, Sophie Cookson was great, but we already have an Emma Watson, thank you very much.

I also marvel at Samuel L. Jackson’s ability to own roles that he’s been miscast in, like the philanthropist tech billionaire planning on yadda yadda yadda it doesn’t really matter anyway except a lotta people gonna die… It really should have been somebody half his age, but that’s the magic of the man, isn’t it? No matter who he plays, he’s Samuel L. Jackson, and that’s always worth seeing. Surprisingly, not a single ‘motherfucker’ that I can recall. You’re slipping, Sam. Still, his handi-capable assistant/assassin Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) was pretty much born to play this part.

Also: MARK HAMILL!

With Kick-Ass, and now Kingsman, I wonder why studios are so skittish about that R rating on comic book movies. Granted, I’d never want to see an R rated Batman movie, or Spider-Man, or anything like that, but some comic books fit the R rating perfectly, and Kingsman is one of them. Deadpool is another, and it’ll probably get the PG-13 rating so as not to taint that most precious of cash cows, the X-Men franchise. But it could, and should, frankly, be R rated. Of course, then there’s the OTHER problem, which is when studios DO try to make an R rated comic book movie, what they actually do is make a PG-13 movie and cram as much blood and gore into as possible, as if upping the graphic violence count is a fair substitute for writing a decent screenplay. Punisher: War Zone springs to mind, although what the heck – I still stand by that movie, warts and all.

Here’s your run-down:
So many dead bodies you can’t count ’em all.
No breasts.
Multiple colorful explosive decapitations.
Thatcher reference.
Off-screen aardvarking.
Gun-fu.
Umbrella-fu.
Prosthetic Leg-fu
Implied off-screen ass-fu.

Four stars. Christopher Chance says check it out.

Five 2014 Movies I Haven’t Seen Yet… But Really Want To

I watch a lot of movies.  I mean, a lot.  In fact, this entire blog is a monument to the fact that I spend a good chunk of my free time watching movies.  But even so, I can’t see everything I want to.  Sometimes I just didn’t make it to the theater for one reason or another, like with Gone Girl or A Walk Among The Tombstones (I’m sorry Lawrence Block, I love you, I really really do, but life got away from me).  I’ll see them sooner or later, and hopefully, it will be sooner.  But there are other films that I just didn’t get an opportunity to see, and that’s what this post is about.   Some of these were in extremely limited release, some of these played only at film festivals, and some weren’t released in the US at all.  Here are five I’d eventually like to see.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

a-girl-walks-home-at-nightI’m not sure how to describe this one to you.  If Jim Jarmusch directed a feminist spaghetti western noir adaptation of an Anne Rice vampire novel, that might come close. However you describe it, Ana Lily Amirpour’s ridiculously stylish debut film, “the first Iranian vampire Western,” looks like it would be well worth the price of admission.

Set in a shadowy Iranian town called Bad City, which seems to be populated exclusively by the worst kind human flotsam than can wash up in a wretched hive of scum and villainy, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night tells the story of a lonely nameless vampire (Sheila Vand) who skateboards around the city while she stalks its most despicable inhabitants.  One night while on the prowl, she encounters Arash (Arash Marandi), a handsome young man whose dreams of escaping Bad City and quaint notions of romance and honor have made him something of a laughingstock among his friends.  An unlikely romance blossoms between the two, but is love even possible in a city as dark and depraved as Bad City?

 

Frank

frank-2014-film-posterI have a friend who really likes Michael Fassbender, and I kind of picture her anguished expression if I ever told her that he made an entire film and never showed his face in it once.  But she probably wouldn’t be too devastated, since she actually appreciates his acting, too, and from all accounts Frank is one of Fassbender’s most epic performances to date.

Actually, it would probably take no less than an actor of Fassbender’s calibre to pull off a character who lives in a paper mache head.  Frank, the leader of an experimental art band called  the Soronprfbs, invites aspiring songwriter Don (Domhnall Gleeson) to join the group, but Don soon begins to realize that he will never be able to measure up to Frank’s own inherent genius and talent.  Unless, that is, he can experience the same types of hardships and tragedies that everyone assumes the mysterious Frank must have had before forming the band.  The film plays out as part satire and part buddy comedy, and throws cold water on the argument that any particular artist’s genius is a product of mental illness.  It’s been praised by critics as being endearingly quirky and thought-provoking, as if Michael Fassbender in a paper mache head wasn’t enough of a hook, and the cast, which also includes Scoot McNairy and Maggie Gyllenhaal, is fantastic.

 

Wild Tales

Wild_Tales-742190384-largeThis darkly comedic anthology film features six stories of violent revenge.  To know me is to know how much I love stories of violent revenge.  Wild Tales is right up my revenge-fueled alley.

The first story, “Pasternak,” follows a group of passengers on an airplane slowly discovering that they all know and have wronged a man named Pasternak.  And then the realization sinks in that they’ve already all fallen into Pasternak’s cunning plan for revenge.  “Las Ratas” (The Rats) opens with a loan shark who stops at a small roadside diner only to be confronted by the waitress, whose family he ruined.  The cook concocts a plan for revenge on her behalf that goes horribly wrong. “El más fuerte” (The Strongest) features two men driving along a highway who become embroiled in the world’s most brutal case of road rage.  “Bombita” (Little Bomb) shows not only how a simple parking violation can ruin a man’s life, but why you should never piss off a demolitions expert. In “La Propuesta” (The Proposal) a kid suffering from affluenza accidentally runs down a pregnant woman with his dad’s car, then runs away from the scene of the accident without helping her.  His father devises a plan to pay their gardener to take the blame, but it might wind up costing more than anybody could have imagined. And finally, in “Hasta que la muerte nos separe” (Until Death Do Us Part) a young bride discovers her husband’s infidelities at their wedding reception and, while looking for comfort from one of the kitchen staff, commits a little adultery of her own.  What follows is one of the wildest wedding receptions in history, but in the end, they may be a pretty well-matched couple after all.

 

It Follows

It-Follows-posterMy wife is much more into the horror movie scene than I am, but I can appreciate a good one when it comes along, and It Follows seems to qualify. Granted, there’s no shortage of movies warning us about the very bad things that can happen once teenagers start up with the rumpy-pumpy, but this one has been really racking up rave reviews from the handful of film festivals that have featured it.

19-year-old Jay has a delightful date with a young fellow only to find that their sexual encounter has left her infected with a shapeshifting demonic entity that will stalk her relentlessly and will eventually kill her unless she stays far out of its reach.  The only way to rid herself of the presence is to sleep with someone else in order to pass it on.  I hate it when I get the demon clap.

Described at Cannes as a mash-up of Jacques Tourneur-style atmosphere and  John Carpenter-style coming-of-age angst, I’ve been trying to avoid hearing too much about it before I see it.  But what I’ve heard makes this movie sound like one that I will thoroughly enjoy.

 

Song of the Sea

song_of_the_sea_poster-620x826-poster-for-song-of-the-seaThe Secret of Kells was such a beautifully written and animated film that I hoped more would follow from Tomm Moore. Song of the Sea, featuring the voices of Brendan Gleeson and Fionnula Flanagan, looks every bit as wonderful and magical.  It’s not just an adaptation of the Irish/Scottish legend of the selkies, mythological creatures who live as seals in the sea but shed their skins to live as human on land once they’ve found love – until the siren call of the sea lures them back.

The film starts after the legend has ended, and concerns two siblings, frustrated Ben and mute Saoirse, who live in a lighthouse with their father.  Their mother abandoned them years ago, leaving their father distraught, but the pair discover that the stories she told them are true, and that Saoirse is, like her mother, a selkie.  Together, they embark on a journey through the magical creatures and places that are part of their heritage, hoping to find out where in these disparate worlds they belong.  It looks endearingly sincere and every bit as dazzlingly animated as Kells, and it’s one on the list that I’m most looking forward to.

Here’s a few others that I’m looking forward to catching at some point in the near future:

Sequel. Done right.

Holy shitsnacks I can’t even…

Love That Crazy Lightsaber!

WTF?!?

The best part of the teaser was… all of it, but I’m really digging this crazy lightsaber the bad guy is sporting.   It’s pretty damn wizard!  Who is this guy?  Who is he going to fight in a snowy forest?  Why is the blade on that lightsaber so weird? If it even is a lightsaber.  What if it’s not a lightsaber?

 

Two Words:

“Hulkbuster armor.”

Wow.

Hooked On A Feelin’!

Honestly.  That Goddamn raccoon.  So awesome.

Kosmogonic

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