Why scheme, lie, cheat, and steal? Because an honest day’s work is so darn hard, and the payoff is usually higher; at least that’s what Mickey Prohaska would have you believe in the 2011 Sundance film The Convincer. Mickey (Greg Kinnear, As Good as It GetsLittle Miss Sunshine) enters every scene with one objective in mind: how can I get more out of this situation? His vile, unapologetic persona is always on the lookout for another scam, and he’s about to unearth his easiest con yet. Once his plot is put into motion, nothing, and no one, can stand in his way. Or, so he thinks. 



Another Sundance movie sure to make an impact this year is Martha Marcy May Marlene, a taut thriller that tip toes into darkness with bone-chilling results. The film follows Martha, a broken young woman, during her first crucial weeks away from an abusive cult. Sean Durkin’s purposeful direction paints a near-perfect portrait of paranoia and fear while Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House) breaks away from her twin sisters’ joint shadow in a powerful performance as the damaged Martha. The film slips gracefully between past and present, forming a mosaic of questions on family, love, loyalty, and independence, and it is this masterful hold on time and space that creates the dream, or nightmare, that is Martha Marcy May Marlene.

The film opens inside the quiet farmhouse that houses the cult members. Martha creeps past sleeping bodies and out of her home with nothing but a backpack. As soon as she passes the front door threshold, she takes off into the woods, but her flight does not go unnoticed. From the moment Martha shutters the word “hi” into a payphone, asking her sister for help, it is obvious that she is anything but a free woman. Martha’s sister (Sarah Paulson, What Women Want, Deadwood) and wealthy husband (Hugh Dancy, Ella Enchanted, King Arthur) are unprepared to rehabilitate this mysteriously damaged girl. Her only explanation to her sister makes some sense: she had a boyfriend (Brady Corbet, Thirteen), he lied to her, they broke up. Her actions, however, expose her lack of understanding of social norms and interpersonal relationships. Her identity and sense of womanhood have been inexplicably altered.  

I saw one foreign film while at Sundance 2011, a Norwegian picture, aptly named The Troll Hunter. In this documentary-style film, a group of students hunt down an accused bear poacher (Otto Jespersen, a Norwegian comedian and actor) in the hopes of capturing his actions for their documentary on poaching. This unwashed, misanthropic man urges them to leave him alone, but as one of the students (Glenn Erland Tosterud) observes, “Do you think Michael Moore gave up after the first try?” They do not heed his advice. Instead, the students follow him deep into the woods with their camera until they catch him trying to kill gigantic… menacing… TROLLS. The Troll Hunter is full of laughs in this mockumentary film that utilizes engaging actors and a decently smart script; in fact, the only place the movie fails is exactly where we really want it to succeed: the trolls themselves.

As DC’s first big-screen comic book adaptation of the summer, Green Lantern succeeded in providing an entertaining film that captured the spirit of what comic book movies can be: fun for all ages.  

Given the negative buzz from fans and critics, as well as the studio’s last-minute additions to an already massive budget, I went to the theatre expecting to waste two-and-a-half hours of my life, wondering why I had purchased a ticket in the first place.  But, to my surprise, I liked it.  In fact, I had a blast!  

Spoilers ahead.

As the most recent addition to the summer movie season, J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 was heralded by critics and fans alike to be the greatest movie of the year - a vision of what films once were and could be again.  Sadly, the film fell far short of this expectation, resulting in a disjointed and cliched effort by Abrams, the film’s writer and director, to mimic the moments of classic, coming-of-age films from the 1980s.

Spoilers ahead.


Super 8 is the story of a group of friends in the summer of 1979 who witness a horrific train crash while making a zombie film.  When strange occurrences become more frequent in their small, steel town in Ohio, the group leads their own investigation of the crash while attempting to complete their movie.

The summer of comic book movies is off and running, as evidenced by the release of X-Men: First Class, the much-anticipated X-Men prequel.  The Fanboy Comics Staff had a chance to see the film on Friday night and, after much deliberation, ... thought that it was OK.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I thoroughly enjoyed my movie-going experience; I was entertained by the film and, more specifically, by the (mostly) phenomenal performances of the cast members.  I would even go so far as to say that my enjoyment of this film was on par with my first viewing of X-Men in 2000.  But, and that is a very emphatic “but,” the film was riddled with issues in writing, continuity, and direction.  The more that I think about the film, the more problems that arise in my mind.     

Spoilers ahead.

"Tragedy.  Milk.  Revenge.  Killin’ Nat-zis.  The Bear Jew.  Hitler.  Wrath.  Hugo Stiglitz.  Sacrifice.  Schnapps.  Movie Premieres.  Mexican Standoffs.  Love.  Hate.  Knives.  Torture.  Strudel.  Sabotage.  Giant Burning Faces.  Art.  Revenge.  Destruction.  Dynamite.  Scotch.  Baseball bats.  B.J. Novak.  Deceit.  Death.  Feet.  Lust.  Winston Churchill.  Glory.  Hate.  Spies.  Scalping.  Arson.  Kidnapping.  Colonel Hans Landa.  Honor.  Machine Guns.  Treason.  Fear.  Rebellion.  Pain.  Revenge.  Quentin Tarantino has done it again!"

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a fun animated movie that will entertain children and adults alike.  In this film adaptation of the comic of the same name written by Jeph Loeb, we have an economic downturn, we have a modern, ever humble yet clever and quipping Superman, we have a huge meteor made of kryptonite speeding towards earth, and we have Lex Luthor being elected President of the United States.  This sets up a Watchmen-style world where superheroes are working for the American Government, “So they don’t work against me,” confides Luthor.  When Superman refuses to work for his long time enemy he and Batman, who shows up randomly, become wanted criminals. From this device we see all sorts of modern political commentary emerge on the nature of the power of authority, the use of manipulation and fear in the media, and the difference between what is “right” and what is the law, although, these issues are secondary to the action and plot, but what do you expect?

 

Before I get into the actual review, I want to make my position very clear: I LOVED the 1999 cult hit Boondock Saints.   I saw it on a recommendation and fell in love.  The action sequences were wildly fresh.  The story was engaging and original.  The acting was great, save a forgivable few mediocre performances.  The characters and dialogue were colorful, witty, and light.  The movie was so f---ing fun!

 

The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day is not fun. This movie is about the return of the McManus brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) from a self-imposed exile in Ireland to once again roam the streets of Boston enforcing their own brand of justice.  The filmmakers tried to recreate the quick pace and slick style of Boondock the first but could manage only to get it up to the level of a shitty knockoff.  The action sequences are laughably repetitive and several are blatant rehashes of scenes from the first movie, with only minor differences. 

 

The script is ridden with transparent exposition, unreasonable plot advances, pointless callbacks to the first film, and masturbatory self-awareness gags as if to say, “We have legions of fans that care about a f---ing good story.”  This sequel is schizophrenic and celebratory, a stark contrast to the first film.

 

There was a time when the rumor of a Boondock Saints sequel was something that seemed both impossible and f---ing amazing. It was very similar to the feeling that the Star Wars prequels had before they came into existence. Geeks would spend hours imagining possible story lines and assuring each other how “bad-ass” these films would be. Much like Phantom Menace, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is heartbreaking in its failure.

 

Actually, Menace might be better. At least it gave us Darth Maul and that bad-ass lightsaber battle. Something, even if it was miniscule, improved in Menace, whereas BS II failed to improve on anything from the first film. Balls!

 

At this point, I’m going to let you know that MAJOR SPOILERS are contained below. In all honesty, I loved The Boondock Saints. I have a tradition of watching it every St. Patrick’s Day while pounding the black stuff, and it always amazes me how brilliant and artistic the film is in every single f---ing scene! The sequel has nearly none of this, and, therefore, I really don’t feel there is anything that I can ruin for you. You’ve been warned.

 

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