More a tone poem than a movie, this thoughtful, vibrant film takes the audience on the placid, yet emotionally vibrant, journey of a Hobo with a Shotgun. Actually, this movie IS a pretty incredible B-Movie along the lines of Robert Rodriguez’ Machete. Coming from the exploitation camp, it has a similar genesis, starting as a fake trailer and winning first prize in Rodriguez’ South by Southwest Grindhouse trailers contest. After accompanying select screenings of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature, it was then expanded into a feature length movie directed by Jason Eisener, written by John Davies, and starring Rutger Hauer in the title role. Also, like Machete, this movie will not be for everyone, as it capitalizes on the gratuitous use of violence, vulgarity, and nudity, even reveling in it, as it pays homage to exploitation flicks of the past.
What I remember from the opening moments of Drive: wide shots of glittery Los Angeles taken in the black of night, opening credits scribbled in thick pink font, electronic pop music that sounded like it could belong in a Brett Easton Ellis novel, and the feeling that I was about to witness an auteur’s breakout American film. I was not disappointed. Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) took home the “Best Director” award from this year’s Cannes Film Festival for Drive, an invigorating, raw crime thriller with a loaded cast, including Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Bryan Cranston. The beauty of this film, as a whole, is that it is purely the vision of its director, and it does not appear to be related, in any way, to the monotonous cookie cutter films that Hollywood can churn out by the dozen. Although Drive has its flaws, it is a work of art, a film that can actually be digested and dissected, scene-by-scene, with moments that are exhilarating, shockingly elegant, and beautifully brutal.
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 Gets, Little 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!
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.
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.
"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?