04 April 2009

About a Boy

Watched this again. My previous review can be found below.

Link

31 March 2009

Louis L'Amour's The Quick and the Dead

Not to be confused with Sam Raimi's film of the same name, this is Louis L'Amour's novel made onto the small screen (straight to cable).

Made in 1987, like many sagebrush Westerns (Tom Horn, Shane, Last Stand at Sabre River), it holds up well, so long as you are looking for a "western" that plods instead of gallops.

Sam Elliott plays Con Vallian and Tom Conti plays Duncan McKaskel (Kate Capshaw the wife that Con Vallian takes a shine to). Set in 1876 Wyoming, the story opens right where it should. No pretense. No need to explain why the settlers are passing through the tiny shack of a town. In no time, Elliott is killing bad guys and helping the settlers make it to safety.

A great story, with some pacing editing, this could be a really tense film (without being B-shlock).

ASIDE: I'm a little confused about whether or not Sam Elliott sleeps with Kata Capshaw (done in the 40s style where the lights go dark), but otherwise this is a pretty straightforward western... although someone online wrote the ending being unpredictable, but I can't fathom that being true.

30 March 2009

Chocolate

If you don't know who Prachya Pinkaew is… he directed Ong Bak… he also directed the Protector, which has a few descent moments, but he also directed the horrendous Dynamite Warrior (which actually has dialog about a young virgin's moon cycle) and the even worse Ong Bak 2.

Prachya Pinkaew, I fear, is out of ideas.
An autistic girl with intense fighting skills discovers a list of debtors in her horribly ill mother's diary and decides to go collecting, only to find herself up against an organized crime ring.
I cannot see a story that opens (so belaboredly) with two gangsters from warring gangs, falling in love together and then making a baby. And a tired and long explanation of why a Japanese guy who likes details might father an autistic baby.

I can't imagine a producer giving this script a thumbs up?!?!

If I were to pitch this movie idea to a producer, I can see a dark, gritty movie, with deliberate shots and perhaps planned pacing.

Instead, we get perhaps Pinkaew's worst film to date, filled with transsexuals (I counted seven), and a fight between two mentally challenged people (seriously, did he just film that?).

I mean… what the heck?

It makes me want to watch the Protector again. And that can't be right.

Here's some nagging questions I have about the movie.

Why does he set up the mother of the child to be a gangster? Was this the only way to have an autistic child have to fight?

Why does the mother suddenly develop cancer?

Why is the young friend fat and inept?

Why are all the women in the film better fighters than the men?

Why do swords come out as soon as the Yakuza boss shows up?

Why does the Yakuza oyabun speak english when everyone else speaks Thai?

Why do have the fight scenes look tight and well choreographed and the others look like manikins falling out of a closet full of wire hangers?

Why did I watch the whole thing?

Wasabi

Once again, Luc Besson tries to cram "family" messages into a production/script of his, but Jean Reno and Michel Muller are amazing, so who cares.

Smart and funny, with ridiculous action, the movie relies on the audience sitting back and enjoying the joke and not taking it all too seriously. I'm sure Luc Besson's original script was as bad as his Jet Li failure (forgetting the name at the moment), but the director of Wasabi pulls it all together.

A little too cheesy and cutsy at times, the movie is still funny enough to keep you entertained.

District B13

I've now seen this movie four times. The final moments are filled with nonsense rhetoric about how to solve violence crimes… as if movies know how to stop them… the rest of the movie is a fantastic race of action and more action.

Featuring David Belle, the inventor of parkour, the movie is everything you'd expect from a mixture of Jackie Chan and French film techniques. Cyril Raffaelli, of French action fame, also appears, but with no real background in parkour.

The ending is typical of Besson's later productions and scripts, but the action is all Pierre Morel's direction and David Belle's incredible talent.

NOTE: A sequel is rumored to be in the works, which will no doubt stink.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Having never seen the original before and looking forward to the 2009 release, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and fluid this film was. There's a lot of gems in the 1970s, movies that had small budgets and needed to move quickly. "Can't linger in times square, people. Let's get this shot and use what works."

And because a good percentage of the film takes place inside the control room and/or the subway car, the interior shots are extremely cheap to film. Leaving room to hire quality actors and get a competent crew in there.

Really. The movie is very good and I recommend it to anyone who loves films like Dog Day Afternoon and the Conversation.

Last 10 Seconds are a little predictable, but that comes with age.