Reviews written by registered user
SmokeyTee

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39 reviews in total 
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Fresh Meat (2012)
13 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
A train wreck with few redeeming features..., 28 October 2012
3/10

Racing away to a 8.3/10 you can tell that reviewers are unbiased and informed in their opinion of films. I mean what a fantastic addition to New Zealand cinema. Not.

Firstly respect to the filmmakers for the ballsiness of casting a slightly-too-old, definitely-not-hot-enough, white girl with a mousy mustache as the to-die-for, lesbian and, most significantly, Asian hit woman. WTF..?

Clearly they wanted the kind of clichéd Anime femme fatale that runs around in ridiculous outfits designed for over-sexed 14 year old Japanese girls. You know like the hench-woman with the ball and chain in Kill Bill... You know, like a Tarantino film...

Trouble is Tarantino is derivative pap anyway, so copying him recycling someone or something else is just lame.

The film has about two good lines of dialogue which will probably (sadly, only) resonate with New Zealanders...

Its a crass, clumsy film with lots of awful, clunky, sexual sight-gags and voyeurism that seem a little out of date for today. Confessions of a Window Washer or Alvin Purple era stuff... Two captive women having to untie each other by undoing each other's ropes with their mouths, while in a top-and-tail position - i.e 69ing. Obvious and cringe-worthy... there are many such moments where the intended audience reveals itself to be 14 year old males.

There were some small charms but the characters, excepting the heroine (who was quite good), were all dull as hell. Morrison had a bit of fun in his role but it would have been nice if they had given him the chance to earn the alignment of the audience before revealing himself a crazy cannibal (who happens to be Maori). Instead he was a boring villain.

There were no surprises and the film plodded along, apeing Tarantino as it went.

The film IS clearly trying hard to do 'Tarantino': for example Mariachi music scores a gunfight during a prison escape (actual police, never mind the prison guards, don't carry firearms in this country.

The son of Mr.Cannibal is probably the worst character in the film, there is no acting involved and he is just freaking dull. Apeing Mr.Blonde in Reservoir Dogs before he butchers people he puts his headphones on and has a boogie for the camera. This might have been 'cool' if he could dance or this wasn't done in Reservoir Dogs which these filmmakers really wish they had made. the actor is a flash in the pan with one music video out so this was clearly his music to film career cross over.

It's shame he has no talent for music, dance, or acting... otherwise he'd be the total package.

Missed opportunities abound. The dialogue is lazy. See it on $1 Tuesdays on DVD.

Choice.

Sneakers (1992)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Has dated well but a very 'light' thriller., 2 July 2012
6/10

I thought this was a GREAT film when it released and saw it a few times - I guess I was 16 or so at the time.

Seeing it again it is a by-the-numbers caper film. James Horner's music sets the mood often over-the-top intense or super light "boy's adventure"...

There is a lot of 'humor' which is very light and usually very dry. I think this film, despite it's being a tricksy one is best for oldies who can keep up.

The story is a simple double caper setup - steal the goods and then steal them again except harder. But anyone watching will notice that for a bunch of crack security experts the characters behave a little stupidly...

Plot holes, occasional sub-par dialogue, out-of-place music and characters that are a bit dull this remains a solid, undemanding thriller.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Quirky, dark film surprises, 6 June 2012
8/10

This is a well made, at times bleak, dark and funny film - you never quite know what to expect. This is no more obvious than with the start of the film which commences with what appears to be a sexed up cigarette commercial (the kind that would have invariably preceded the film when it was in cinemas) featuring a hot couple blasting about in their convertible. This all ends very, suddenly and very badly and decades later Tarantino would steal/borrow the same device and make it the pivotal moment in Deathproof...

The film drifts along introducing you to a fairly bizarre town called Paris in the Australian countryside and there is a lot of brooding and suspense but it doesn't really build because you never know quite what is what or what will come next.

The film terminates with a fantastic scene of violence that I will not reveal in any detail here. It really, really appealed to my sense of humor and I hope it does yours - if you take the time to see it.

Rambo (2008)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
More of what made the series stupid., 2 April 2012
4/10

First let me qualify my appraisal of Rambo by saying I love Rambo: First Blood despite it's many flaws. Flaws that include the ultra-cheesy Colonel Trautman and the fact the film smashes the viewer over the head with its rightwing political poppycock. All it was missing was a Rebel Flag, or a coloured or homosexual women's rights protester being castrated or shot in the head in every other scene to really capture the rage of an emasculated white America in need of a hero like Rambo...

That said it First Blood was a tense actioner and an early character study of the (now clichéd) haunted, war-weary reclusive, Ex-Vietnam, elite special forces dude fated to kick arse... once again.

Where First Blood was bright and original, leaving aside the fore mentioned rightwing rhetoric, Rambo(4) fulfills it's obligations to the subsequent sequels, continuing their legacy, and making only passing nods to the spirit of the first film and offers very little to merit praise - save the massive bodycount and computer generated gore.

The violence of Rambo was a talking, and selling, point. Sure war films have become more "realistic" with their violence recently with big films like Private Ryan, Thin Red, Black Hawk. However the increased violence has served the purpose of focusing the audience on the harrowing circumstances of war and is matched by the film-makers attempt to render the strain of combat upon the combatants involved and their relationships.

Rambo makes abstract gestures at humanity that might be confused as genuine but it is ALL about the violence. Like the character Rambo the film feels fake, his motivation feels fake, the events seem ludirous. But according to Sly this is supposed to highlight the very REAL suffering of the people of Myanmar..? To whom is this message intended? Most of the people that are attracted to such a stupid, violent movie won't give a rat's arse about little 'Chinamen' in Myanmar. Such viewers actually believed Rambo sorted out their problems for them in Rambo 1,2 & 3 already.

Rambo certainly delivers the violence but the Rambo of 2008 is not the Rambo of 1984. Firstly Stallone looks like a smooth plastic action figure that has been put in the oven to melt and contort. I doubt Rambo (the character) would have gone in for unnaturally distorting plastic surgery)...

I appreciate the spirit of the project - presenting ultra-violent action because modern warfare involves ultra-violence. often distorted by media and Washington spin into some kind of sterile, clean affair for the boob-tube masses. The problem is Rambo is just as distorted and warped in it's depiction.

The American, Rambo, only helps the Myanmarans because a big-titted blonde American woman is scripted to inspire pathos in us, the viewers by her concern for the poor Myanmarans. This is puke. Rambo goes in and kills all the evil Myanmarans so they stop killing the good Myanmarans.

So once again a weak, coloured people require the services of the big white American 'cock' to come and sort out the other, weak, coloured, but distinctly evil, coloured people.

Of course it is fascistic, violent pap, hell that is fine, but why do we need the tears of a white American woman, or Rambo, to make this plot work and the Myanmarans achieve their freedom, ostensibly from themselves...!!??

Answer: Hollywood.

Noise (2007/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I warmed to it. However, the end left me wanting., 22 October 2011
6/10

This was one of those films that, at least initially, inspired me to reach for the eject button in frustration.

The main reason for this was the obtuse characters :the Sergeant/boss, the detective, the girlfriend etc. The near victim and witness to a multiple homicide is treated in a manner that was just ridiculous - her rights ignored, no support or sensitivity exhibited by the police this was one of those stupid films that just frustrates from start to finish... it got better.

The photography is expressive: particularly when capturing the flickering, decaying, night-lit scenes of Melbourne.

The sound is interesting but I wasn't really sure that the protagonist was even someone whose experiences we were supposed to privilege when the soundscape became filled with his tinnitus' ringing...

This was a film that could have had many interesting characters but I felt it failed on some human level to empathize with its' subjects. A lone cop (he acts more like a security guard) minding a community outreach "office" in a low rent suburb might have invited all manner of intersecting lives and interesting stories.... Unfortunately this wasn't THAT kind of film, emotionally stark and ending with a rather heavy- handed closure that was unfortunate.

I'd rather it had ended ambiguously (and risked further frustration) than force a redemption or closure upon us. Leave it at that - and make your own mind up.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A very hit and miss comedy., 9 October 2011

This script had the potential to result in a very amusing film with a lot of reversals for a pair of convicts as they bumble their way out of jail and into a case of mistaken identity as a gay couple hired to coach and manage a small town pageant.

Steve's Zahn's caveman half of the comedy 'duo' delivers some laughs as he is challenged to provide tuition to young girls. Sadly the other half, Jeremy Northam's handsome conman, remains stuck in a dull romance with the town's only pretty blonde - when he isn't being pursued by the local sheriff.

It's a weird film with characters that are a struggle to like or believe and while there are a very few laugh out loud moments for most of the film it feels like hard work to find anything genuinely amusing.

Northam is particularly boring to watch due to his apparent inability to produce facial expression. Perhaps he attended the Roger Moore School of Facial Acting... He was much better as an equally (but suitably) 'blank' corporate spy in the low budget sci-fi Cypher. Which I recommend.

Tracker (2010)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable - good dialogue, some laughs., 28 September 2011
7/10

The cat and mouse/hunter-prey theme is pretty well rought but this film adds a convincing human element to a film that might otherwise get caught up in the landscape or action.

The early scenes and some of the supporting cast are a little lackluster, and reminded this viewer how difficult it is for New Zealand films to escape a sort of provincialism (for want of a better word) that can often be detected in kiwi films trying to be 'international'. Winstone, Morrison and Andy Anderson as the colonial tracker all stand out in this.

The film has plenty of action and fistycuffs and ballyhoo but the focus is firmly on the tension of the hunt and the connection that forms between Winston and Morrison's characters.

Without adding a spoiler I will say the ending, while not disappointing, might have been 'more'. You make your own mind up!

Lebanon (2009)
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Disappointed., 21 September 2011
4/10

I had mixed reviews prior to seeing Lebanin and sadly this was a film that lacked in many departments and I am glad I resisted ordering on blu-ray.

Situated inside a tank for several claustrophobic days during the Israel-Lebanon war and seen, largely, through the gun sight of the gunner this could have been a tense, gritty film with much in common with submarine films or the decent 80's film The Beast.

Some reviews I have read complained about the emotive or manipulative images or events portrayed and I share these sentiments. The camera unnaturally/gun focuses in close up on "evocative" images like corpses, a poster of the virgin mary, more corpses, crying women - the gunner is spends the film watching like a tourist providing the audience with dramatic/tragic scenes in close up. Which feels unnatural, scripted and left myself and other reviewers feeling manipulated.

The grime of the tank is palpable and the soldiers become dirtier as they creep further into (or out of) contested territory. This might have been a device designed to reflect the mental state of the soldiers (and interesting) - but the psychological states of the inexperienced and uninteresting crew was beyond us. We just didn't care by the time things got tense.

Perhaps if the driver's view, and the commander's, were included instead of just the gunners this might have helped the film. As it was the gunner spent the whole time turning the tank barrel to follow people in close up instead of doing his job and watching for enemies. It felt wack.

Viewers that think a camera being shaken in the last word in action and that believe what is put on screen before them is implicitly true and authentic might love this film. The wife gave up at about 30min, I fast forwarded the last 20 min.

Get The Beast out or watch Das Boot again instead...

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Cheesy, silly, weird, fantastic. bad. GREAT!, 9 September 2010
7/10

People expected a lot more from the support cast and Barry Pepper doesn't have the screen presence to role. He's a sexless, emotionless figure and so is his love interest int he film - who everyone takes orders from late in the film apparently because she is Barry Pepper's squeeze.

It's a Scientology film starring one of Hollywood's big scientologist actors.

It has Ray Bradbury Theatre level effects and sub-Ray Bradbury story/dialogue. Basically expect some perfectly adequate effects for television but ofr a blockbuster sci-fi (which this, despite its aspiration NEVER was) don't get your hopes up.

The plot holes are legion, but the narrative keeps moving along at a steady pace. The final battle is fairly trite with some of the worst models/effects effects giving the film the aesthetic quality of a 1970's disaster movie.

*IF* you can make it past these glaring flaws and enjoy *CHEESE* and silly science fiction this film definitely has the ability to provide a great deal of pleasure.

Travolta is as good as Travolta ever was... Forest Whittaker is walking, or limping, through his performance but still provides a good deal of comic relief. The heavily shoed Psychlos are quite delicious as they back stab and torture each other mercilessly.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The blunder from Downunder, 2 December 2009
3/10

I tried this one twice when I started doubting myself given the favorable reviews. No luck this really is just a stupid movie with some big stunts.

Ong Bak really set the bar for Tony Jaa and this films departure from such a successful formula into Tony Jaa VS Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles,DayGlo-motocross-riding, street-gang-hoodlums in Sydney just didn't lift my skirt.

Like Jackie Chan's Australian film (whatever it is called) it's weak and feels like 'Hollywood on the Goldcoast'. Unlike Chan's Rumble In The Bronx which went all out for cartoon silliness and was much more successful.

There may be some great stunts and if you can watch a film purely for that then this one might be the greatest film you've ever seen.


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