Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is a dark satirical mockery of drugs, guns, and sexual obsession. It’s a cross between Kids (also written by Korine) and Natural Born Killers. Korine uses spring break as a metaphor for nihilism and focuses his attention to debaucherous exploitation, it is an unsettling, though intriguing, 90-minute ride. Spring Breakers becomes redundant in the second act as Korine finally offers up his plot, but James Franco somewhat saves that, providing a performance that will instantly become his most memorable. Alien’s dialogue is lewd, his demeanor perverted, and it’s all carried out shamelessly. The female performances are mottled and most of the time, indistinguishable from one another. Korine offers spectacular filmmaking in the process. The most well-executed scene is one long take of the diner robbery from the seat of the getaway car. The shot circles the restaurant from entry to exit, capturing the entire horrific experience, as if you are the getaway driver. Though ultimately it becomes repetitive, party scenes on the beach and naked bodies are filmed in beautiful slow motion, to a pulse-pounding spot-on soundtrack.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a frustrating movie. A movie with a ton of potential that doesn’t deliver in the ways it could, or should. The end result…”meh.” Steve Carell can improv, he’s proven it in Anchorman, 40 Year Old Virgin – but those talents are not showcased here. In fact, the entire cast is under-utilized, as if they are locked in their scripts. Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the street illusionist pays off dividends, there’s just not enough of those scenes. You can’t argue with the casting decisions, the few good lines these actors have are executed well. It is a shame they weren’t free to explore. Wonderstone also spends too much time exploring plot points that are unoriginal and unfunny. Vegas is an escape city, if you want more, you won’t get it here. Director, Don Scardino, seems to prefer retirement home gags over magician life on the strip. Magic tricks take a backseat to Burt’s self-discovery and redemption. It comes down to a comedy that isn’t allowed to fully develop because it is stunted by story, one that’s been told multiple times before.
Freaky Deaky is an eccentric crime romp from filmmaker/producer, Charles Matthau. He faithfully adapts the picture from an Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown) novel of the same name. The movie is set in 1970’s Detroit, a period credited with vast crime and arson, the FBI’s “most dangerous city in America”. The late 60’s / early 70’s politics don’t play into Freaky Deaky’s back story (the novel is set in the 80’s), but the era’s notorious drug abuse, shag furniture and hair-do’s are relentless, to the point of excess. In the opening sequence, a drug dealer with an amazing Afro is bathing in a bright green shag bathtub, complete with corny porn music to back up the scene. eOneFilms sent us an exclusive clip featuring an exchange between Mankowski and Donnell. Mankowski hustles Donnell as he removes a bundle of dynamite from Woody’s pool.
Snitch is mostly a film about the lengths a father will go to save his child’s life, but it also addresses a flaw in our justice system. The minimum mandatory sentence for a first-time drug trafficking offender is 10 years imprisonment. The sentence is actually higher than that of some violent crime (i.e. rape) convictions. While there is no denying trafficking is a crime deserving of accountability, in many cases the retribution is clearly unbalanced. Dwayne Johnson (he doesn’t include “The Rock” anymore) turns-in a strong performance as John Matthews. The character is vulnerable, and despite Johnson’s intimidating stature, pulls off a believable execution. Gavron, who plays Johnson’s son, is equally as successful, however, these two performances overshadow the remaining cast. Although Snitch is based on actual events, it is at times, melodramatic. It doesn’t detract from the overall experience, but there are a few cringe-worthy dialogue exchanges. Be warned, Snitch isn’t the action film you’d except from Dwayne Johnson. Clearly, Johnson is taking a risk with this deeper character, but if Snitch is any indication, he’s going to find many more job opportunities.
Every played out senior citizen joke is included in Noah Haidle’s story, from Viagra abuse to breaking out of prison, wait, I mean nursing home. This script is flippant and cliché at every turn. Direction doesn’t fare any better. Fisher Stevens is proof a fully loaded gun (of acting chops) won’t trump a painful lack of suspense, drama, and failed payoffs. While the sophomore production duo deserve their lickings; Pacino, Walken and Arkin aren’t off the proverbial hook. Pacino overplays, Walken underplays, and Arkin, well I can’t figure out when Alan Arkin died.
At the heart of Warm Bodies is a forbidden love story in the spirit of Shakespeare’s tale. This modern translation trades zombies for Montague’s, humans for Capulet’s and zombification for weapons. The Beauty and the Beast and apocalypse-curing romance elements are cheesy, but unlike Twilight, Bodies plays it that way. There’s even a Pretty Woman reference that works well. What isn’t so warm is pace, and I’m not referring to the zombie walk. Bodies moves at an excruciating speed. At a mere 97 minutes, this movie feels bogged down by too many flashbacks that don’t add value. Overall, Warm Bodies offers enough humor and amour to drag your spouse out for a movie date.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a feast of decapitations, bullets and exploding torso’s that could easily detract from this spin on an old classic tale. Instead, the gore adds to it, (pardon me) oozing with style and creativity. This is director Tommy Wirkola’s English language debut, and he does so commandingly. There’s not much in the way of character development and Renner’s performance is the least inspired of the cast. You might hardly notice or even forgive that lapse since Wirkola has cut this film down to a fast 90-minute thrill ride. The visual effects; including CGI, 3D and make-up are stunning. The gore is fantastic. The soundtrack loud. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a visual and auditory treat. This is the type of film that inspires this blog.
With a bevy of action films slated this year (clearly a result of The Expendables success), it was only a matter of time before the crap reached the surface.
Despite Kathryn Bigelow’s recent Oscar snub, Zero Dark Thirty is an intriguing account of the decade-long manhunt for America’s most wanted.
Sean Penn shines in an otherwise dull crime-thriller about 1949-50 L.A. cop vs. gangster conflict. …makes the typical 50’s melodrama that much more frustrating.
Marlon Wayans’ A Haunted House, breathes new life into a genre the Wayans family are… were killing. Let’s face it, the Scary Movie franchise needs a stake in the heart.
The Hobbit is a must-see film this holiday. At 167 minutes, it’s a marathon, but Jackson paces the epic very well. Tolkien fans rejoice!