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I'm sorry but I couldn't take this film seriously for one minute. If the teenage characters weren't laughably mimicking hard-bitten film noir characters and the director had recognised the difference between visual sparseness and real atmosphere this could have been half decent. The premise is good, the execution is dreadful. A simple example is the hard cop, "VP" character. OK he is Richard Roundtree but what is he going to do? Shoot you in the face or write your parents a strongly worded letter because he's just a school administrator? I can't suspend disbelief that much.
If you want to see an accomplished update of film noir then The Big Lebowski is the obvious choice. I'd rate Brick a 3 but the spare, subliminal soundtrack is really good. That ups my rating to a 4.
Actors? We don't need no steenkin' actors
From the opening "joke" about a guy who is multiply arrested for sticking cats up his backside - to get the gerbil out - my heart sank. If Jason Mewes is the best actor in a film you know you have real trouble. I can only assume this was a misguided attempt to make a John Hughes movie but a bit edgier for an older audience. Unfortunately no one can deliver even the good lines naturally and it fails to create an air of Askewniverse. It's just bad actors in contrived situations moving their hands a lot.
In the intervening years Jason Lee has learned to act, Ben Affleck remains a mysterious practical joke that Hollywood continues to perpetrate on the world.
Grandma's Boy (2006)
How long must my people suffer?
There's an underlying current in all the positive reviews of this movie - it's just a brainless comedy, don't take it seriously. Chillax dude!!! Well that's one point of view. The other would be - why are we accepting exactly the same script, the same formula and the same unfunny people in all these "comedies".
What you get is a slacker who, through some totally unreal circumstances, has to change his life (always a he), overcome a set of circumstances which would only pose a problem to a raccoon or a teenager, beat the equally stupid bad guy who is trying to steal the gal he met two days earlier and triumph by remaining a slacker but with more money/self-esteem. On the way somebody does something gross but very illogical. This means you the viewer can call someone after the movie and say something like "you won't believe it maaann. This guy finds the otter drowned in the bucket of diarrhoea the other guy left after he ate laxative brownies. Then he shines his shoes with it". Hilarious.
Most of the usual names turn up. David Spade and Rob Schneider do unfunny shtick but they're crrrazzeee characters - a Russian and, I'm holding my sides, a waiter in a vegan restaurant. Adam Sandler, the king of the brainless unfunny, illogical comedy co-produces and some talentless nobody called Dante shows up, yet again. The US will have to explain to the rest of the world what this guy Dante is famous for cos we are clueless. Allen Covert plays a 36 year old which got the biggest laugh of the night from me. He was 42 and looked years older.
Did I laugh? Yes, but no more than I would at a TV sit-com and I don't have to pay a penny to watch them. Please stop making these movies.
The Uzis of Madison County
My entirely subjective view of this film was that Charlie Kaufman was hired to adapt a very worthy, well-written book called The Orchid Thief for the screen and quickly realises that it's another Bridges of Madison County (Meryl Streep plays the author). As such it is really not a great subject for a movie and he is stuck with this albatross of a book. The film then becomes an allegorical version of his efforts to create an adaptation.
Due to the strain his (fictitious) brother Donald appears embodying all the commercial aspects of Hollywood film-making. Donald learns screen writing at seminars given by someone who is basically just another money sucking inspirational speaker. As Charlie's antithesis, Donald does what Charlie can't and writes a ludicrous(ly commercial) psychological thriller about a serial killer who turns out to be the detective trying to catch him. Charlie points out that they can't be the same person as they are in different places at the same time but Hollywood doesn't care and buys the script for a million dollars, obviously.
The key moment is when Donald meets the author Susan Orlean pretending to be Charlie. Donald suspects something is not right about Susan and The Orchid Thief, John Laroche. This is actually the moment the real Charlie gives in to the fact that he has to do something commercial to spice up the script.
What follows is a nicely done Hollywood pastiche of drug addiction, guns, Lousiana swamps, alligator savagery and Charlie effectively killing off the character of Donald in a car crash. Donald has served his purpose as an artistically credible way for Charlie to sell out and he has a decent script. Confused? - well it's all a bit post-modern so it was never going to be simple.
Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper are always guaranteed to give great performances and Nicolas Cage does nothing wrong but I think Paul Giamatti would have killed as Charlie. Still, as the writing credit reflects, there have to be compromises to get a film made.
Don't bother. Watch "Factotum".
Somehow this film stuck in the back of my head as something really good I had seen in the 80's and when I had the chance to see it again I jumped at the chance. Oh dear. I never made the connection between "Barfly" and Charles Bukowski's writings, which I read 10 years later, and there's a good reason why. This is awful and untrue to the writing. Mickey Rourke seems to have based his acting on cartoon characters. Foghorn Leghorn for the physical acting and Sylvester the cat with a touch of WC Fields for speaking. He could do no wrong at the time, who was going to tell him otherwise? Set in a different time period from the writings it misses a chance to draw comparisons between those lost to society post-Great depression and their hugely similar post-Reagan counterparts. Bukowski had "Don't try" written on his gravestone, a phrase from one of his poems. Obviously everyone involved in this film read that poem. Watch "Factotum".
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Burn Hollywood Burn Pt. Deux
Charlie X is a talented screenwriter who, despite dictating every creative move of his puppets (actors), is reduced to the status of a bum. Every woman in his life is only interested in his ability to introduce them to movie stars. As a writer who wants to earn money he is confined to the demimonde, floor 7 1/2, working pointlessly for a deluded producer whose continuing existence depends on owning one actor after another. Maybe.
The cast does a great job of not being primadonna Hollywood actors (John Cusack has always been more self-effacing than, well, George Clooney. Especially in that movie where he was a jewel thief)). Charlie Sheen bald and talking about hot lesbian witches, John Malkovich sniffing women's undies, Cameron Diaz looking like your lesbian great-aunt - all good.
Double bill it with Barton Fink.
The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)
A black satire on the Hollywood gay scene
Written as a document the "pink casting couch" phenomenon of the 1950's this movie sees a lot of well turned out lads with greaser haircuts being groomed for knighthood (starring roles) by a lot of Ado-masochistic old men (producers/directors) while being warned away from women. Amazingly this movie got past the Hollywood brass and the censors to become a minor hit which is a testament to Rudolph Mate, a lifelong celibate and dog-handler. Much rambunctious dorm tomfoolery ensues between these little honeys. Critics pan Tony Curtis for his Medieval English accent and at the time some of these critics were old enough to remember the era so their words may ring true. Janet Leigh looks like a pint of milk rubbed with lipstick which may be intentional.
The Players Club (1998)
Makes "Showgirls" look like Ibsen
Ice Cubes writes, directs, produces, acts, makes the sandwiches and thoroughly spoils everything in this movie. If it was made by a white person it would be slated out of hand for being racist. Written in crayon, it even uses a country and western song ("Coward of The County") for the denouement of one of it's plot lines. Yes, beating up the person responsible for the rape of someone you care about really settles the score. It doesn't get more sophisticated than that. Jamie Foxx plays a character who continually denigrates the dancers in the movie until he shows tenderness to one of them at the end for no reason but " that's Hollywood, forget logic". I don't think that this movie featured heavily on his CV .
Withnail & I (1987)
There are no jokes !
This film is about a couple of actors in a run-down flat in London with a "holiday" in the Lake District in the last days of the Sixties. Swinging London is incredibly mundane because they have no money but is made mildly more pleasant by cider, gin, beer, lighter fluid, unfeasibly large joints and (potentially) anti-freeze and life threatening barbiturates. Throw in a predatory homosexual uncle and the best performance of a drunk by a tee-totaller and you've got the film. Doesn't sound funny? Bruce Robinson refined and hawked this script for years. It gained mythological status with whoever read it before a shot was taken or a deal was made. Frankly, you either get it or you don't. If you don't get it you really haven't got a clue about comedy and it's not enough to quote cultural differences. Not a single joke or one liner in it, just a brilliantly skewed look at the human race.
Weekend at Bernie's (1989)
Wickedly erudite comedy
Combining all the elements of Rabelaisian farce and a sub-text alluding to the decline of the Victorian British Empire (dragging a dead body called Bernie, I love it!) "Weekend at Bernie`s" is a tour-de-force, a witty, sizzling near-teen comedy taking pot-shots at the establishment. From the opening scenes filmed at the actual site of the Hoover Dam to the conclusion in the Serengheti, WAB is a relentless stream of Wildean bon mots and a purposively futile invective against "the man". Despite eschewing the comedic device of including either Cheech or Chong it still is salient in the Noughties. People still have bosses who die, beach house parties carry on and large nations still protect their oil resources by invading non-warring nations while ignoring noble causes. Best quote "Rwanda, I don`t know any Rwanda. Is she the chick with the big knockers?". While still not standing up well to WAB II I give this a 7 out of ten