Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Black Dahlia (2006)

The Black Dahlia is a 2006 historical mystery/thriller about the infamous Black Dahlia murder in the 40s. However, you’d be hard pressed to really find anything about the actual murder in this film, as this is a movie that seems more preoccupied with…oh, just about everything BUT the goddamn murder.

Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank

I guess it’s based on a book from the 80s or something, and, hey, if done well, a story like this could be potentially good. A sort of brooding drama about the lives of two cops investigating the murder. Nothing wrong with that in principle…but the thing is, The Black Dahlia is a horrible movie. It’s been a while since a movie had me going ‘Just end! Just end already!’ after every scene in my head. It’s also been a while since a script made me want to strangle every single character in it and then light their bloated corpses on fire, but hey, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Let me take you readers on a journey now, through the pits of ineptitude capable by man…let me take you through the horrendous well of never-ending suck that is The Black Dahlia.


We start off in the 1940s! Isn’t that amazing? They never let you forget it; what with the constant sepia tone and the set pieces that come off more like a high school production of a Sherlock Holmes story than anything actually genuine. Every single set design, every character costume, every prop is just screaming out ‘look at me! Look at me! I’m from the ‘40s! Really!’ Like a little kid dressing up in a police officer costume on Halloween and then later begging his mom to take him to McDonalds. Eugh.

But enough of that – let’s get to the main attractions here: Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart, playing two cops who are so cool that they hang out chatting about boxing during riots and rebellions in the street. It’s a flashback from the present time when Hartnett is getting ready to fight Eckhart in the ring; sure. But seriously – we see all this cool stuff going on, all this action, and what is Hartnett narrating about over top? “I really thought it would be cool to have a boxing match with the guy from Suspect Zero.” That’s crap and you know it, movie!

What this movie wants us to believe: scenes like the one above, packed with action and social intrigue, are worth skipping over and barely mentioning at all as part of the story...
...while THIS SHIT is considered top-dollar stuff! The cream of the crop! Pfft, get over yourself movie.

And that’s another thing that’s really annoying in this movie…Hartnett’s butt-clenching awful narration, which is about as convincing as a twelve year old doing a Marlon Brando impersonation and editing it over the actual footage of The Godfather. It’s awful and contrived and I hate it – moving on, then.

Gee, I’ve spent so much time on this movie already and I haven’t even gotten to the main plot…well, what is the main plot? Well, Aaron Eckhart beats the crap out of Josh Hartnett and then invites him to hang out with him and his wife, because that makes a lot of sense, right? “Hey, I just knocked out several of your teeth. Want to come hang out with my wife Scarlett Johansson, so she can flirt with you while I’m not around? Yes? Awesome!”

Is that sepia tone getting irritating yet? Yes? Well, we're only 15 minutes into the goddamn movie. TRY SOME OTHER COLOR SCHEMES YOU HACKS.

Yeah, Scarlett Johansson plays Eckhart’s wife in this movie, and I think it’s actually a really impressive performance. Not because of her actual acting or anything; no – she’s about as convincing as a wooden plank would be. But because it’s so damn obvious that she didn’t care at all when doing this whole movie. She doesn’t even try to hide how much she doesn’t give a crap. You can practically see her waiting to get back to her trailer and smoke a joint after every scene she’s in.

It’s hilarious how Eckhart sees them dancing together at a party and gets that squinty jealous, suspicious look in his eyes – dude, YOU INVITED HIM TO YOUR HOUSE. How do you have any right to act jealous now?

"I get jealous even though I let my wife dance with random, attractive younger guys I physically bring home to her...I guess I'm kind of a dumbass."

I also love this one scene where Hartnett comes in and sees Johansson stripped down to her underwear just standing there washing her face in the sink. She turns around and sees Hartnett checking her out, and does nothing…uh, how about closing the door, you goddamn bimbo? I know you really want to bang Hartnett for no reason at all, but c’mon, be a little more subtle about it! Since we know so little about her relationship with Eckhart or even her as a stand-alone character, it’s hard to get invested in crap like this, makes little sense, and is mostly more humorous than dramatic or suggestive.

"Oh, closing the door is just so hard, especially when me and my husband made a new friend who apparently feels at home enough to just walk in at any time! But luckily I totally want his body for reasons only privy to hack screenwriters!"

Hartnett notices a big scar on her back that says ‘B.D.,’ which he uses his masterful detective skills to figure out means Bobby DeWitt, who was some pimp scumbag who she used to work for, who is currently in jail but getting out soon. Hartnett muses on how people hurt women all the time and…has anyone else noticed the big problem with this yet? They haven’t even talked about the Black Dahlia murder at all! We sure get a lot of nonsense about boxing, about the relationships between men at the police station and a lot of fluff about Hartnett hanging out with Eckhart and Johansson and going to the movies…but when your movie is called ‘The Black Dahlia,’ and you spend this much time on very poorly written drama and exposition, hell, you can see how I’d be disappointed! Just get to it already, you hacks! God, I’ve seen neighborhood watch meetings that are more exciting than this movie.

So we get some crap about some mob boss guy who they have to go arrest, and there’s some shootout. I guess there’s a minor subplot about the Black Dahlia murder, which finally occurs, but really, that’s just a minor side plot. Where’s the riveting talk about boxing? We also really need more scenes with Scarlett Johansson flirting with Hartnett behind her husband’s back. Who cares about the real, historical event that the title of this movie is based on? Deliver the good stuff, movie!

But, yeah, all jokes aside, the murder finally happens, so we get some scenes of Hartnett and Eckhart investigating stuff around town. They’re poorly done and cliché scenes, sure, but at least at over 30 minutes into the movie – yes, over 30 minutes in – we’re finally on the main plot. Baby steps, you know?

Scenes that have something to do with the Black Dahlia murder? Wow, I totally didn't expect that given the way this was going. It sure is an interesting sub plot, but when are we getting back to the main plot about romantic whining and cheating on husbands and boxing and stuff? This is pretty boring.

Hartnett, I guess, learns that there is some woman in Hollywood who looks identical to the murdered girl, so off he goes, ever the super detective. He meets up with the woman, who is played by Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank…anyone expecting a good performance out of this great actress will be as disappointed as they were with the other big names in the film, as miraculously director Brian De Palma managed to take a bunch of these huge actors and get the worst performances possible out of each and every one of them. What a perfect load of asinine horseshit. Swank’s character is a cardboard cutout of a noir lady, only there to look hot in low-cut dresses and flirt with Hartnett in a silly accent…charming, if you’re 13.

"I won two Oscars, and now I'm in this movie acting like I'm strung out on meth and happy pills at the same time. Life sucks."

To get him to hide evidence and keep her name out of reports, she flirts with him and gets him to agree to come see her the next night, and he accepts because he is the greatest detective ever…all great detectives take bribes and are easily fooled by a pretty face! But while I was expecting a hot, steamy sex scene, we get this:

That’s right, she invites him in to meet her parents, and the first thing she shows him is a petrified dog. Apparently the dog was trained to fetch the paper, and on one particular day, Swank’s daddy learned that he got a big promotion, and so he shot the dog in place and left the newspaper in its mouth to remember the occasion forever. And nobody seems to consider this at all creepy, disturbing, morally wrong or an unholy abomination of nature! Anyone with good sense would just turn the movie off right now, after this plus all the other injustices to human decency this movie has, but not me. I hate this movie far too much to let my viewing up to now go to waste by not finishing. Let’s do this!

I love how Hartnett got suckered into an awkward date with her parents there and everything…that’s priceless, and because this movie caused me so much pain, seeing this gave me some vindictive catharsis. That pained look on his face like “I was thinking we’d be having sex by now, not listening to your lunatic father and horrible-acting mother” is just priceless. It’s not enough to make up for the rest of the god-awful cinematic train-wreck, but at least it’s something.

They do eventually have sex and everything, and it’s about what you’d expect – pretty much just a space-waster to put some smut up on the screen, and it doesn’t even last longer than half a minute or so. This movie is about as erotic as watching a porno with your grandparents.

Have you forgotten about the mutilated dead girl in this movie yet?

So really, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the middle of the movie because it’s just Hartnett and Eckhart going on a tour of the super obvious, gratuitous 1940s settings with scowls on their faces while Hartnett narrates overtop in his super-serious gritty detective voice – keep it up there, buddy, maybe someday you’ll really sound halfway convincing! The movie even just stops for a bit to show us how cool the 1940s were by showing us their comically over the top set pieces:

THIS IS THE 1940S! THIS IS THE 1940S! Did you get that yet?! Didja?!?
Did I mention the obnoxious repetitive saxophone notes played throughout, as if to accentuate every other 1940s stereotype this movie could pile on? No?'s obnoxious.

So, you may be asking, what’s going on with Aaron Eckhart’s character? Yeah, I know you don’t give a shit about him in the least, but just pretend you do and go with it. Apparently overnight he became obsessed and insane over the Black Dahlia case and is now acting totally crazy all the time, shouting at his wife and causing scenes at work. I love how, when he causes a scene at work, Hartnett gets dragged in with him to get chewed out…seriously, why? It was obviously only Eckhart who made any trouble! Do they just think Hartnett looks cute or something?

And seriously – Eckhart being this crazy is not a good sign. Have you guys seen the last time he got like this?

Not a happy time.

But really, though; this whole plot thread about Eckhart going crazy is so poorly handled that I find it hard to believe that veteran Scarface director Brian De Palma actually orchestrated it. There’s no segueway! There’s no character development! He’s normal in one scene, then we cut away from him for 5 minutes, then the next time we see him, he’s raving mad. That’s beyond third-rate screenwriting; that’s like seventh-rate screenwriting! Somebody send this writer back to college and teach him how to write a proper goddamn story. Shit. What’s his name; Josh Friedman? And he hasn’t written anything else since this movie? Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me very much!

There’s one scene where his wife Scarlett Johansson explains that he’s so gung-ho because he lost his kid sister when he was younger, and so now any murdered girl reminds him of her. For one…that’s retarded. And two, really, a one-line explanation is a serviceable character development now? Go to hell, movie.

Anyway, apparently that DeWitt guy from earlier is being released now. Since The Black Dahlia is allergic to having scenes involving the actual Black Dahlia, we get a fight scene between him and Eckhart. There’s a struggle, and DeWitt ends up dead, but then a mysterious figure also slits Eckhart’s throat and kills him, too, throwing him over the balcony.

"I'm so glad I'm finally out of this movieeeeeeeeeeee!" *splat*

Johansson is so broken up about her husband’s death that she and Hartnett start making out almost immediately afterwards:

Look how sad they are! They're just broken up over Eckhart's death!

What a two-timing slut-whore. I guess dead husbands turn her on? This seriously pisses me off, and for that to happen when I’ve already had my brain melted by the rest of this movie’s mind-numbing insanity and stupidity is a pretty big feat. Bitch, your husband just died! I know nobody in this movie can show any kind of emotion beyond over-done melodramatic whining, but come on! How am I supposed to be invested in a character that just shrugs off the death of her husband like five minutes after it happens?

No, literally, it’s instantaneous. He gets killed, Hartnett looks sad, he goes over to her house and they talk about it for like a minute, and then they’re making out. It’s not even like grief sex, either; no; the next morning they’re snuggling and smiling and talking about what to make for breakfast. WHAT PLANET AM I ON? This is despicable and low even for this shitty ass movie! I hope Josh Friedman or the author of the book or whoever the hell authored this crap gets a rude awakening one day when they realize the ramifications of loss can’t be solved by shacking up with your buddy’s grieving spouse the very same day. Ugh.

Look at all that heavy grieving they're doing!

Okay, whatever, so it’s revealed that Johansson was keeping stolen money from this drug deal that Eckhart was helping to cover up, which is why he killed one of the guys in that shootout earlier. This plot thread is pointless and largely evokes a yawn from the audience, but it does get Hartnett back into the loving arms of Hilary Swank’s character! Because that’s really what I wanted to see! More running around to unlikable female characters for contrived, ridiculous melodrama! Why isn’t this god-forsaken movie over yet? It’s like torture! This should be used as a torture device on terrorists at Guantanamo! If you won’t close it down, Obama, at least make the best use of it possible!

So it’s then revealed that it may have been Hilary Swank’s character’s father who killed the Black Dahlia girl, because…he was in the house when she was making a pornographic lesbian film? I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. Two seconds later, we find out that this was all a red herring, and that the father didn’t do it, but the MOTHER did! Yeah, great suspense there, movie. That was, what, maybe a minute or two at most that we thought it was the father who committed the crime? Well, I was just on the edge of my seat, I say!

Whenever someone tries to tell you this is a good movie...just show them this face, and they'll shut up right away. And seriously, this lady's performance is just amazingly awful. If she didn't get awarded a Razzie for this I'll be very surprised.

But yes. This movie just solved the Black Dahlia murder. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that just so smart and revolutionary? 60 years of policework couldn’t do it, but a hack screenwriter like Friedman and the doofus who wrote the book can! I am just so blown away by this amazing twist! So blown away that I want to know more! Tell me, movie, why did Hilary Swank’s mother kill the Black Dahlia?

Well, apparently it’s because the Black Dahlia looked like Hilary Swank’s character. That’s really all we get. That’s the big reveal – she killed the girl because the girl looked like her daughter. How did she even get away with doing it right there in the yard? I dunno! The movie didn’t plan that far ahead. Well, I extend my middle fingers as high as they will go straight in the direction of this festering disease of a movie, this horrible collection of clichés and overdone melodramatic tropes!

That’s The Black Dahlia, and it----

What? WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S NOT OVER YET?! I still have more of this torture to sit through? Oh, God! Why? Why?!

So what, it’s revealed that Hilary Swank actually killed Eckhart earlier? Hartnett responds to this by shooting her and killing her right in her hotel room where they had sex earlier. He then goes back and gets together with Scarlett Johansson again and sees the Black Dahlia’s murdered, mutilated body lying on the ground in a vision, I guess symbolizing that he’s still thinking about the case. But like the movie as a whole, he just shrugs off the real, historical, UNSOLVED murder and goes inside to have more sex with Scarlett Johansson. Isn’t that just so perfect for this ass storm of a movie?

Hey, the sepia tone is gone! IT'S A MIRACLE!
"We can forget about this because it was never the main point of this movie and doesn't even deserve mentioning again. No, what's really important is that a man-slut cop gets together with a lying, horrible bitch who got over the death of her husband by having sex with his best friend five minutes after it happened. Truly she seems like the best person to be with!"

What they don’t show you is the police finding Swank’s dead body and throwing Hartnett in prison for murdering her. They don’t show you him getting ass-raped in prison for the rest of his life while Johansson’s character becomes a single mother and can’t give her unborn child a good life. They don’t show you those things, which would be a good thing in most movies. But I hated this movie so much, hated all of the characters, hated their reactions to every situation…I hated everything in this film so much that I WISHED we had seen that shit!

The Black Dahlia is just uuuuggggghhhhhhhh! I can’t even describe it in a proper English word, it’s so horrendous. Everything about this film is just painful, from the tacky sets and costumes to the convoluted plot and the horrible, unlikable characters. And it’s a shame, because some of these actors like Aaron Eckhart actually did try to make something good out of this, even in spite of the hack-work script, and even De Palma tries to conjure up some atmosphere with the admittedly decent camerawork. But nothing can salvage this botched up movie. The whole concept of introducing a romance subplot into a detective murder plot is iffy enough, but ending the movie on it is just creepy when you really think about it. It’s like, hey, here’s a story where a young girl got cut in half and mutilated beyond recognition…aren’t you glad it ended with a happy couple getting together? That just doesn’t work at all.

And the crowning jewel of awfulness has to be the fact that they solved the unsolved Black Dahlia murder, and not only that, but gave it such a weak and unimpressive story! All they could come up with was ‘she was killed because some mother thought she looked like her daughter’? Bullshit! That’s so anti-climactic it almost rewinds the entire movie back to the beginning. Which is a fate that nobody deserves. You really can’t just do that – resolve things that were actually unsolved in history. And if you do, you have to have godly writing skills to back it up and make it work for the story, make it plausible. So The Black Dahlia is a failure on pretty much every level, and I hate everything about it. I hope this movie burns in the lowest depths of cinematic hells imaginable!

The pictures in this review belong to their original owners. I do not own any of them.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

REVIEW: Iron Sky (2012)

Nazi films have taken the path of bad horror franchises. At first, they were legitimately heartfelt and dramatic, with real weight to them – like Schindler’s List, American History X and Defiance, among numerous others. Then they went down the path of self-parody, as Inglourious Basterds shows us. It got even stupider when we introduced zombie Nazis into the mix, much like various franchises introduced lackluster and often stupid premises. And with Iron Sky, the Nazi film genre has gone completely off its meds and into cartoony nonsense.

I mean it, people; this has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Nazis on the moon. That’s all you need to know about the plot – Nazis on the friggin’ moon. How could this idea possibly produce anything above wall-banging inanity and drooling ineptitude? It can’t. It really can’t, but hell, God knows it tries anyway. Iron Sky, people!

Director: Timo Vuorensola
Starring: Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby

We start off with, what else? Nazis on the moon. We see a couple of American astronauts bumbling around on the moon, barely able to stand up – hur hur, look at the dumb Americans! – when they come across the Nazi moon base. The Nazis kill off one guy, but capture the other one and take him prisoner for some reason – why don’t they just kill him too? Because otherwise there would be no movie, and Lord knows a world without this would truly be a world that nobody would want to live in.

Meanwhile on the moon base, we see Richter, a super-hot Nazi babe teacher who tells the class to talk in English and review how their moon colony came to be: apparently it’s about what you’d expect; they escaped to the moon and are planning to come back and take over the Earth. That’s all we get, and only then so the audience will know what’s going on. Isn’t that just amazing screenwriting? When you just flat out have the characters say the backstory exposition-style in a few lazily done lines? And for that matter, there are a lot of holes in this story. How did the Nazis escape to the moon at all, without anyone noticing? Did they just point over the world’s shoulder and go “LOOK! The imminent threat of a Cold War!” and then run away in a puff of smoke, like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon?

"Now I'm going to teach you kids how to bake Swastika-shaped cookies!"

So it’s revealed that the astronaut they captured is a black man, and since the Nazis are a pure Aryan race, they’ve never even seen a black person. Hell, they don’t even know black people exist. They just think there’s “something wrong with his skin.” That’s just charming, isn’t it? He tries to plead with them by throwing out all the random German words he knows, like Volkswagen and other dumbass American things to say. Because, as this movie will reinforce time and time again, Americans are all friggin’ idiots with no dignity or class at all, with no exceptions whatsoever.

He manages to disarm all the guards, though, and escapes easily. Uh, I’m sorry, how have these guys been self-contained for years with no problems? They get their asses kicked by the first guy they catch! For an unstoppable military force they’re pretty wimpy…these guys ought to be mall cops, not soldiers of the Fourth Reich on the moon! Sheesh.

Anyway, he somehow gets teamed up with that Richter chick and accidentally opens up a gate that will suck them all out into the breathless void of space…

I just love how in every single bad movie ever set on a spaceship, the main characters OF COURSE hit the very convenient switch on the wall that opens up a vacuum into the deadest reaches of space. Like, why put it there unattended at all? Wouldn't it make more sense to just put it in a 'BREAK GLASS IF NEEDED' case like a fire alarm, so that stuff like this doesn't happen every other day? I guess I just don't get the incredible complexities of space nazis.

…it happens! They’re not incompetent, really!

While they’re trying to hang on for their lives, all of Richter’s clothes blow up and leave her mostly looking like a Nazi porn star (see pic above). Nazi pornography definitely isn’t what I thought I’d see when I woke up this morning. If it turns you on, great! But if I see a buff looking stud with the acting talents of Jean Claude Van Damme on horse tranquilizers stumble in and ask this girl to heil his Hitler…I’m out of this flick faster than you can say Nazisploitation.

Meanwhile on Earth, the president of the United States certainly doesn’t look anything like a certain much-maligned political figure from a few years ago…

she hangs out in the Oval Office in sweatpants and workout clothes and does nothing but run on a treadmill all day, while promoting insane propaganda to the masses - HA! How clever of them? No, it's mostly just retarded.

…oh, screw sarcasm; it’s a frigging Sarah Palin reference. It’s so blatant you might as well just flat out have her talk about seeing Russia from her backyard and spoiling her kids with the campaign money and everything. It’s so 5 years ago though! Who makes jokes about Sarah Palin anymore? This is a 2012 movie? Please…I’ve seen more subtle humor in Jim Carrey movies.

So back on the moon, the Nazis tie up that black guy, whose name is James Washington by the way, and force him to listen to loud and annoying German radio broadcasts in an attempt to turn him into a Nazi. He delivers some truly cringeworthy lines that you can really see cause the actor pain. I mean it’s bad; it’s really, really bad. Calling a bunch of Nazis “homey” and using words like “trippin’” isn’t exactly the height of diplomatic relations intelligence, you know. It’s not really the kind of thing the US would pride itself on.

So they turn him into...

…aw, God, really? That looks like what would happen if a snowman and a horribly wet, bedraggled cat fused together into one horribly misshapen abomination. It’s horrendous! If this doesn’t appear in your nightmares tonight…you are a braver man than I.

Oh, and what’s this? A reference to Dr. Strangelove? I’m sure Stanley Kubrick would be proud, yeah. Because this movie and Dr. Strangelove are on the exact same level of comedic wit. Why do I get the idea this is like a monkey paying homage to the works of William Shakespeare?

James, Richter and their commander, Adler, end up going to Earth to meet the President and get into shenanigans that got old in the 80s, retreading ground that isn’t even retro right now; just lame. Is this movie really pulling the whole 'strange looking aliens try to approach a bunch of black dudes playing ball' thing? I thought that shit died 20 years ago. But I guess not. Somehow they find the person they’re looking for in a second: this one chick who has some serious anger problems who seems to run the space missions. They kidnap her and kick James out of the truck, leaving him homeless on the streets.

They interrogate the woman they kidnapped who says she’ll bring them to the President, which she does, promising that they can help her win the election. The President sees the opportunity, too, and starts using Richter’s speeches as her own, which gets a lot of good press. Ha ha. Implying that the current American population is so dumb that they’d fall for the same mistakes that Nazi Germany did back in the day? That’s…actually a little bit clever. It’s not genius or anything – for it to be, we’d have to really see more of the context this world exists in – but it’s a little funny, I’ll give the movie that.

But here’s something that’s not – we fast forward three months ahead and see that James is now a hobo on the streets and the Nazis are involved in the upper class politics. So how is that a big difference from before the time lapse? Everything seems to be pretty much the same.

We see that one chick trying to get it on with Adler, who rejects her because his first love is and always will be the Fuhrer. How heartbreaking. He’s about to call his Nazi buddies when they just show up there…somehow…I’m really not sure how. There’s a lot of boring dialogue and, long story short, he kills his leader and takes over the position himself. He then calls in all his forces to come and attack the Earth, prompting an all-out war. Hooray, violence and destruction!

This still from the new Die Hard movie brought to you by Iron Sky.

The President is happy because “wartime presidents always get elected for a second term.” Isn’t this political satire just the best? Isn’t it so subtle and understated?

They all end up on the moon somehow, and the movie is trying to force upon us a contrived romance between a sheltered Aryan woman from the moon and a man who has been turned into a slightly slimmer version of the Yeti from Ice Age:

Because, yeah, that's a romance that really brings a goddamn fire to my heart. When I think of great romances in cinema I will think of this. Hell, thinking of these two in the bedroom? Totally hot.

Charming, yet again. The US and the rest of the world launch all their spaceships…yes, they all have spaceships now…and fire on the Moon. The US ship is led by that one chick who got rejected by the crazy Nazi, Adler, from earlier – she now wears a costume so stupid that even the worst Power Rangers villains would scoff at it.; I can't take that costume seriously. Every time she's on screen the mood is totally ruined. It's not even funny so much as embarrassing...and I don't get her character arc at all; she got rejected by that Adler nazi guy and so she turns crazy psycho war-bitch on us? It's totally forced, and makes no sense.

To make a long story short, Adler gets axed by Richter, and James fights off a scientist who looks like Albert Einstein’s retarded cousin, and is about as nuts as all that, too. Meanwhile on Earth, the world leaders discover that the Moon Nazis actually have had a resource called Helium-3 for years now that could have made energy infinitely sustainable on Earth, and…what breaks out is honestly one of the funniest images I have seen in ages, as the world leaders start jumping out of their seats and pummeling the shit out of one another:

Okay, that's pretty damn cool. If the whole movie was just cut out and this was given to us as a minute-long animated short, I'd give it five stars out of five.

On the Moon again, it turns out even though the colony just had the shit bombed out of it by the entire world’s space militia, mostly everyone is OK! I guess the US had their nukes set to 'safe' mode. They all wake up just in time to witness the whole reason this movie existed at all, their first sight of a white woman kissing a black man:

Hooray, two characters we don't give a shit about are together at last! My heart soars.

That’s right, James turned himself black again. How did he know what to do, being that he’s not in any way a scientist and had no formal training with any of the equipment in that crazy laboratory? Ssssshhhh.

We end on a very odd image of the sun shining through the hole in the moon and…blacking out cities on the Earth.

What is that supposed to mean? What does it have to do with the rest of the story? I dunno! Hey, for that matter, seeing as this movie is supposed to be set in 2018, how is it even an election year at all? It would only be halfway through a term for the 2016 presidential elect! Do the people behind this just not know basic math? You know, I’m starting to think this movie is just crap.

I guess it had a few funny moments here and there – sometimes the satire, while heavy handed and rather stupid, actually did get a laugh or two in spite of that fact, and I enjoyed the manic energy everything had – certainly nothing felt boring. But Iron Sky is just too shallow to really be a genuinely good film. It doesn’t go deep enough with its themes and isn’t particularly clever or witty, and the jokes are all pretty passé and banal. It’s entertaining at times, and not everything about it is bad, but calling it a legitimately good flick is a stretch. The plot holes are too abundant and the story is mostly squandered in favor of silly slapstick and dated, tired humor that nobody will get in five years’ time. If you really want to see Nazis on the moon…well, this is the movie for you. The rest of us can safely pass on this.

Images copyright of their original owners; I do not own any of them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

REVIEW: Sidewalls (2011)

People are really just like pinballs bouncing off one another in an aimless digital age, and what is there really to serve as a point to it all besides what we make for ourselves? Everything is digitized, everyone is trapped between walls and nobody has a clue what they are doing with their lives day to day, let alone in the bigger picture. What is there to it all? What are we but bags of flesh drifting through silicon and rust-carved cities doing jobs robotically and losing our souls day by day? Where is the light?

Well, I don’t know. But I do know that this is a great piece of cinema, which tackles a few of those questions.

Director: Gustavo Taretto
Starring: Javier Drolas, Pilar López de Ayala

Sidewalls is a Spanish film about a guy, Martin (Javier Drolas) and a girl, Mariana (Pilar López de Ayala) who live next to one another and lead strikingly similar, dissonant and disappointing lives. And they’re basically perfect for one another! But they’ve never met, and in the big city what chance is there of that, anyway?

This is just a magnetizing film, and I was hooked from the start. Everything in this movie is whitewashed and grey, and the cityscape is vast and mechanical. The two main characters are often pictured from far away in big crowds, or among other people. Everyone in this movie seems terribly alone. We see them both try to connect with people and go on dates and we see them fail, simply because people so rarely ever do anything else in the grand scheme of things. Sadness is normal, happiness fleeting – as it should be, lest we forget the worth of happiness. Sidewalls portrays these themes by showing us a series of vignettes about Martin and Mariana just trying to get by in every day life, to find connections.

There’s a lighthearted grace to this movie, mostly in the wry narrations, that makes it a real pleasure to watch – these are some of the best narrations I’ve seen for a movie in a long time. I love the little things in this movie like Mariana’s obsession with Where’s Waldo books – you will believe that she can make Where’s Waldo into something poetic and profound. There are tons of these moments in Sidewalls; these little moments, visually and writing-wise, that stun and warm the heart, and it would be a disservice of me to list them here when you can go discover them for yourself.

Sidewalls is just a great romance film, as well as a great commentary on our digital age and the ramifications it’s had on socialization and romance. It’s a masterwork of directing, with a ton going on visually in addition to the great script. Despite its disparate setting and drab colors, there is never a dull moment on screen and everything seems vital and life-affirming. This is very much a movie of progress and change, as it starts out pretty bleak, but by the end it shines with newfound life. The two actors are both excellent and portray their characters so well they might as well be second skins, and the script is so good it’s chilling – a masterpiece of connecting human being to fellow human being. I felt in tune with the human spirit after watching this, and that’s as high a compliment as I can give.

This movie is on Netflix, so you really have no excuse to go watch it right away. Fans of Lost in Translation and similarly down-to-Earth love stories will eat this up, but really this is just an essential film for anyone who wants to see something beautiful and affecting about people who’ve lost their ways finding them again. People are lost all the time, and maybe life doesn’t have any meaning at all, but anyone who can make a film like this is close to tunneling a light through the darkness. Magisterial and powerful, yet also sensitive and entertaining.

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