Friday, January 27, 2012
A few minutes into Norwegian director Marius Holst’s “King of Devil’s Island” you can guess the direction the story will go. That isn’t to say the film is bad or boring, it is in fact quite the opposite, but the plot is certainly one you’ve seen numerous times before. Part prison tale, part story of rebellion against a corrupt system, “King of Devil’s Island” follows the time-honored, almost western arc of a new individual coming into an existing situation and indelibly altering the landscape. What keeps the film from becoming stale are the performances, especially by the young cast, and the bonds and emotions they bring to the piece.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
“Haywire”, the new action movie from director Steven Soderbergh, has a serious direct-to-video vide. But it’s like the classiest DTV movie you’ve ever seen. Not only is the cast so far over the head of this style of film—not many straight up action flicks feature names the size of Ewan McGregor, Michel Douglas, Michael Fassbender, and Antonio Banderas, some, but not many—but Soderbergh’s hand is readily apparent. He adds many of his trademark visual and structural flourishes to spruce up the joint. “Haywire” is full of recognizable color and musical themes, a narrative that jumps around in time, tricky camera moves and angles, intricate depth of frame, even down to a planning montage that is reminiscent of his “Ocean’s” movies. “Haywire” isn’t going to blow your mind hole, or make you think too hard about important issues, but, especially given the massive delays in getting a release (Soderbergh was able to shoot and unleash “Contagion” before “Haywire” would ever see the light of day), it is a solid revenge-tinged actioner, full of kick ass brawls, chases, and a sly, self-deprecating sense of humor.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Horror anthologies are a hit and miss affair. While some installments succeed wildly, others invariably fall flat on their face. “The Theatre Bizarre”, the latest in a long and distinguished line of these films, is very much in this category. Moments of near greatness exist right along side segments where you’re counting the seconds until it ends. That’s also part of the fun of anthologies. There’s a sense of giddy mayhem when something clicks and comes together. It gets in, does its thing, and gets the hell out without wasting any time. Shorts can be efficient little buggers from time to time. And even when things don’t work, the time commitment is minor.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Director Kim Ki-duk’s (“3-Iron”) 2002 military drama, “The Coast Guard”, now out on Region 1 Blu-ray courtesy of Palisades Tartan, begins with a great deal of promise. The film starts out as a powerful, emotionally intense portrait of the casualties of war, even in a time of relative peace. As “The Coast Guard” progresses, however, the film spirals out of control, fractures into multiple stories that each distract from the other, and ultimately gets away from what made it engaging and watchable.
Friday, January 13, 2012
I certainly didn’t intend to see “Joyful Noise”. You know the one I mean, the uplifting, feel good, everybody hug, Dolly Parton/Queen Latifah joint about competitive gospel choirs. The one where you see the commercials and think, who the hell is going to watch that? Apparently I will. Like I said, it was unintentional. I went downtown to attend a screening of “Contraband”, which is much more the speed of everyone who reads this site. That was the plan. But here’s the problem, I’m an idiot. I didn’t bother to double check what theater “Contraband” was showing at, and I just went to the one where the vast majority of local screenings are held. Like usual I wandered up to the obvious PR firm intern standing at the door with a list, told her I was here for the screening, wrote down my name and who I write for, and headed for the appropriate theater. Security didn’t even wand me.