Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

Can we all agree this Russian poster for Magic Mike is the best poster of 2012 (so far)?
Yes? Why? do you love the bold title design and overall selfawareness as much as I do or do you think you've seen better graphic design at actual strip clubs? 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Head over to PopMatters where I discuss Jason Robards in Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Head over to PopMatters and read my review for Matthieu Kassovitz's La Haine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Head over to PopMatters and read my review for the splendid A Hollis Frampton Odyssey.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

(Very) Short Takes: "MIB 3", "Madagascar 3", "21 Jump Street", "The Intouchables".

Sometimes adaptations of TV shows work better than they should, which happens to be the case with 21 Jump Street. Recurring to the modern fad of bromances, this one has former high school enemies Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Tatum) become best friends during their training at Police Academy. The geek learns from the jock (no need to point out who plays what, right?) and soon the roles are once again inverted when they're sent back to high school on an undercover assignment. The film doesn't really make an effort to be much more than it should be, although it has to be said that when compared to recent comedies, this one -gasp-is surprisingly funny throughout. Hill and Tatum don't stretch their acting muscles beyond what we know them for, but the screenplay and the high-spirited direction of dynamic duo Lord and Miller make it pleasant, sometimes hilarious(despite moments of massive eye-rolling) and actually rather sweet.

Those who take so much pride in belittling Hollywood for its mundane, lowbrow sensibilities, and brag about the wonders of European cinema should be eating their words while watching The Intouchables. The movie isn't just proof that even the French can do crappy cinema, it's also proof that they have seen something they want to emulate in the lowbrow Hollywood movies they criticize so much. This "feel good" flick, was "inspired by true events" and shows us how Driss, a poor man from the Parisian projects (Omar Sy) injects new life to lonesome, millionaire tetraplegic Philippe (Francois Cluzet). The movie feels like a montage of everything that's wrong with how movies choose to treat their audiences - there is nary a moment that doesn't feel calculated and overstudied - and while its magical negro center might be excused by France's lack of racist self-awareness, there is much to be said about the way in which it reduces its characters to silly archetypes, nothing but shadows of real humans.

If you enjoyed Madagascar and Madagascar 2, this unnecessary sequel is just what you were looking for. There isn't much to add to this series which by now has become a purely money-making enterprise. This time around, the escaped zoo animals join a circus and travel across Europe as they try to avoid being caught by a psychotic Animal Control officer. The movie is aimed at children who will undoubtedly be enthralled by the simple humor, visual gags and colorful situations. Thinking adults however might be offended by the film's complete lack of subtlety, especially because there aren't any cheap jokes it shies away from (including countless punches at how Europeans are "weird"). From its use of Katy Perry, to the way in which it avoids taking any real risks, this is one of those movies you know were better than the previous chapter but still won't remember the day after you've seen it.

Men in Black 3 seems to be rooted on a strange thirst for 90s nostalgia, that has invaded movie screens recently. While the first installment was groundbreaking and helped establish Will Smith as the king of summer movies, the ten years that have gone by after the sequel have proved that time isn't always forgiving. Tommy Lee Jones practically disappears for the entire movie and is replaced by Josh Brolin (never a bad thing to be honest) who plays a younger version of his character. The film's time-travel premise gives path to many plot holes, confusion and all the issues brought on by bending time, but despite its shortcomings (Will Smith isn't half as charismatic onscreen as he used to be) the film results rather enjoyable.

Grades
21 Jump Street **½
The Intouchables *
Madgascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted **
Men in Black 3 **
Head over to PopMatters and read my review for the Academy Award nominated In Darkness.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Style Sunday.

Emma Stone is once again queen of this column, as she shows off her risky choices by going with this overwhelmingly floral Dolce & Gabbana sheath. The detail in the embroidery is magnificent, but what works so well is that Emma carries it with graceful style, other starlets would've been drowned by the amount of detail and have ended looking like they're wearing curtains, but Emma pulls it off wonderfully.

Is there anything she can't do?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Head over to PopMatters and read my review for Summer Interlude.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Style Sunday.

There's undeniably a certain washed out-ness to the way this pale blue Emilio Pucci compliments Emma Stone, but it's this barely there touch that also makes it one of her most glamorous looks to date. The simplicity of the pencil skirt and Grecian inspired top suggest nudity without actually revealing a single inch of skin. Gotta love that Emma kept it simple by choosing to go with unruly hair and even simpler makeup. The nude pumps and discrete handbag are just to die for. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sheet-y Saturday.

Where we take a look at posters for upcoming features.

Whoever orchestrated the advertising campaign for Prometheus deserves a thousand awards. Each trailer, teaser and graphic piece has been instantly iconic, clever and appropriate for the medium. Just see how for the Imax poster they're putting emphasis on the scope of the thing. A tiny Noomi Rapace finding the huge head from the movie, gives audiences an idea of the huge cinematic ride they're in for. If this isn't what a poster should be doing, then someone please enlighten me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Head over to PopMatters and read my review of Summer with Monika.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Copy of a Copy?

I'd reviewed Certified Copy last year and as I reviewed it again for PopMatters I couldn't help but wonder if in fact I was writing a copy of my original review. How about you help me decide?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman *

Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones
Brian Gleeson, Sam Spruell, Ray Winstone, Noah Huntley

While fairy tales always ask us to suspend our disbelief, few have done so with the preposterous notion that there is a universe where Kristen Stewart is fairer than Charlize Theron. The South African beauty plays Evil Queen, to Stewart's title heroine in what, more often than not, results a tepid attempt to update the iconic German tale.
Set in a land designed by fans of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, the movie pretty much relies on pastiche to fool us into thinking it's doing something original and "adult". As if children's tales weren't already encoded lessons for us to carry well into adult life, this adaptation tries to squeeze every little grown up thing about Snow White and turn it into an "issue".
No longer do we have a heroine whose fate is sealed by the vanity of her stepmother; now we have a political refugee who escapes prison with the help of a brutish widower (Hemsworth) and turns into a combination of Joan of Arc and Jesus, as she communicates with the animals, is "chosen" by the spirits of nature and eventually comes back from the dead.
While there is nothing essentially wrong with how Kristen Stewart looks, her eternal funereal appearance makes it impossible for non-Twilight loving audience members to get why she's the heroine. Her skin is so pale that most of the time you can practically smell the embalming liquid oozing from her body. Then there's the whole problem about how much she seems to hate the cameras. She constantly tries to stay away from them and in a movie named after the character you play, this becomes quite the problem. Miss Stewart not only looks awkward during every scene, but she also invalidates the effort made by all other cast members.
You never believe that someone like Theron's evil Queen Ravenna would be intimidated in the slightest way by Stewart's Snow White. Much less would you believe that a studly man like Chris Hemsworth's nameless huntsman would fall for her.
It's as if the movie is playing a joke on us. Can it be that at some level it's trying to show us that you don't need to be a great beauty to land a blonde, Aussie stud? That might be interesting but then the movie would be going against what the screenplay makes us think about Ravenna.
Theron screams, moans and grunts her way out of one of the strangest characters she's ever played. She chews the scenery with extreme gusto but her performances comes off looking like Lena Heady's Cersei Lannister on acid. She just screams too much.
Even when the situation calls for it, Theron is always one step beyond, which could very well be more obvious because of the lack of effort put in by her antagonist.
While it's true that at all times the movie should contrast the evil and good characters, Snow White and the Huntsman suffers because it does this with no restraint and almost no control. Instead of creating the wicked rivalry suggested by Theron, the film delivers almost bipolar moments particularly in how it doesn't know where it stands on sex and if it does, it chooses an almost retrograde notion that chastity equals endless virtue.
Where Theron's Ravenna is in full control of her sexuality (so much that she murders her husband while riding him during a sexual act), Snow white is nothing if not asexual. Not since Anne Baxter's infamous heaving chest and cries of "Moah-sez", has someone looked more painfully horny than Kristen Stewart. The problem is that where Baxter was actually enjoying herself, Kristen's parted-lip shtick doesn't have a pinch of eroticism. When in the last scenes of the movie we see her turn from Jesus to Elizabeth I, the way she pants and opens her lip as they place the crown on her head, would have made a fascinating commentary on how power might just be the ultimate aphrodisiac. But then we see K. Stew is staring at Chris Hemsworth, and once again we're confused. It's like she's always reacting late. Will she ever wake up from that eternal zombie slumber she's in? Will she ever make up her mind between Jacob and Edward? Will we be able to justify to ourselves the fact that we were rooting for the evil woman who killed young girls to steal their beauty? And why the hell would anyone need a sequel of this film?

Style Sunday.

Whatever Naomi Watts is up to lately, she should keep doing it! After looking breathtaking during the Cannes Film Festival, she strikes back with a perfect look to attend the Women if the Year awards. This Versace floor length dress hugs Naomi beautifully but the best part might just be her effortless hairstyling. She looks like a Greek goddess getting up from a nap.

Speaking of goddesses, how delicious is Charlize Theron in this Dior Haute Couture cocktail dress? That she's not even wearing any jewelry or heavy makeup speaks tons of how much she trusted the dress to do all the important talking.

Which of these two blonde bombshells is your favorite?