Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: February 2010

A Man and A Boy, his son, walk the road, pushing an old wrecked supermarket trolley. All their belongings are in there. There is nothing but them and the Road. The aim is to reach the Sea, but why? There may be hope. Where there are, there is none. The world has been destroyed. There is no more life, no vegetation, no food, no humanity. Just a few survivors of whatever catastrophe came upon them. The suicides are of the past – today, it is only an exit route if you get caught by the cannibals and breeders.

I have certainly read no bleaker book in the last decade than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. What can you do with this material that defies all hope? You can only try to catch the atmosphere of movement, of vacated minds and restlessness, of vagueness in ambition. The film cannot match the book’s bleakness, because you can imagine so much more despair than you can show. But director John Hillcoat and DP Javier Aguirresarobe go at great pains to convey the feeling of a burnt world, and of apocalyptic normality. It is one of the cases where I do not really see the need for a film, because there are so few elements the film can use to transcend the book, but as a isolated piece of art, the movie has a stunning beauty, designed around the brilliant actors Viggo Mortensen and Kodi SmitMcPhee. The boy is a nice surprise, as he is restrained, controlled, but not cool. He has the ability of his age to still be awed, or scared, or terrified – but to pack these sentiments into the cage of a boy who has spent his life on the road trying to survive.

Larry has a terrible time: a student tries to entangle him in a bribery web, his wife leaves him, his wife’s new lover is incredibly annoying, his supervisor is incredibly annoying, the rabbis he consults are either half-dead, full-fledged idiots or incredibly annoying. Oh and his brother is a criminal.

Ah – … er … em… I cannot say a lot about this, because I am not sure what it was a bout apart from … scenes of a dorky nature, present by a not very spirited Jew suffering under his Jewishness. As I know very little about Jewish habits, festivities and rituals, it always strikes me as very exotic to see those rites presented in films. But actually I have the impression that the writers and directors of these films also feel that those habits are kind of odd – celebrated with even more vigour and fervour than the Christians would celebrate their own Christmases, First Communions or Easters. So by just exposing their tortured main character (him being a sufferer of Lot-ian dimensions, hence becoming an old testament reference in and out of himself) to all those family and relatives traditions that he clearly seems to be overwhelmed by, they can already ruin his life. Bar mitzvah or separation ritual, it all stinks to him and he wants to escape from it, making him a very lovable annoying character out of the big sketch book of the Coen brothers’ annoying yet lovable characters. And it seems the new habit of Coens is to end their movies early and abruptly. In the words of the reviewer:

“A Serious Man” — I blow hot and cold on the Coens, but even their weaker films (e.g., “Burn After Reading,” “The Ladykillers“) reward repeat viewings — and their better films reward them even more. This utterly delicious black-comic Jewish fable, set in a middle-class Midwestern suburb in the ’60s (a place that still carries buried undertones of Eastern European shtetl) is among their funniest and darkest films, both humane and ruthless in a way that’s highly Coen-specific. As the last shot faded to black, I sat up in my seat and said, “Oh my fucking God!” Which is precisely right.”

Mr Fox and wife are looking for a calm and quiet autumn of their fox lives. They even move into the calm neighbourhood of a tree where the regular chicken hunting days should be over. But Mr Fox has a plan, he is up for a final mission involving the three largest farms around.
Make no mistake: this has nothing to do with a children’s movie. It is about existentialist fears, manhood in the face of adventure, boys growing up to the attention of their fathers, drinking and killing, and the big chicken hunt of live. It’s great, but do not take your kids, they will faint of boredom. Instead, enjoy the nice details such as the Home vs Stray teams display at the whack-bat ballgame. Dialogues like “I am not different. We all are. Him especially.” Strangely monotonous voice overs by George Clooney, Meryl Streep and some regular Anderson cast (Schwartzman, Murray). Nice high noon showdown quotes. Mortal peril in underground labyrinths. A lot of stuff that may be incoherent, but is fun to watch. More in “oh look what they did here” way than in an immersing fashion, but in a month that gave me “Men -> Goats” and “Sherlock Holmes”, that was more than I hoped for.

A bunch of researchers and additional staff (one police woman among them) hangs out around Antarctica. They discover a body in a remote area, and when following back the traces, they discover a plane that crashed decades ago, and that still carries a cargo worth killing for.
The most amazing bit is the beginning, when for absolutely no reason whatsoever the director decides to spend 5 minutes observing the girl character undressing and taking a shower. Never in movie history was a scene so completely annoyingly out of context and gratuitous. And for Christ’s sake: it’s the girl from those terrible Underworld movies, so if you want to see her buttocks, go there! While the plot unfolds, I kept thinking that this surely must be a distraction, that the actual THING (take this for reference, haha) must be happening or showing up soon. No such THING, just a bit of greediness with the slightest bit of surprise when (again, in a fashion distractingly out of context and gratuitous) some limbs freeze and need to get chopped off.
One of the possibilities for the end actually comes to terms (after some annoyingly boring fights with axes and wind and snow), and tell me who cares at this point. One question as to the surprise factor: if you cast an old bearded guy who looks like Juergen Prochnow as the camp doctor, how would you want to make your audience believe that he does NOT have a dark secret???
(a whopping 7 per cent on the tomatometer … that must have been the worst-rated film I ever watched… I would say it is not that bad, maybe 20 / 100).

Somebody called Sherlock Holmes (but without the detective’s sophistication and wit) tries to break a plot of sinister Lord Blackwood to somehow overhaul the UK and the world and everything else.
Just a short word, because I really cannot remember any details: this film is rubbish. And even worse: it’s terribly boring. I am not sure what got into all those reviewers who suddenly converted to become Guy Ritchie lovers. I could not follow the black whole of a plot for half an hours without falling asleep. The loud explosions and fist fights are things that I do not want to see in a movie based on the Sherlock Holmes character. The intelligence and witty ways of discovering the evil plots is absent – but this is the only thing interesting about Holmes in the first place.
A disaster of a movie, an insult to the literary character – reminded me very much of “League of Honourable Gentlemen” and “Van Helsing”.
7 / 100

A journalist stumbles across a former member of a special elite group within the US army, trained for paranormal warfare. He digs deeper and discovers people who believe they can break clouds by power of will, stop goats’ heartbeats and run through walls.
The cast and the story made for one of the films I anticipated most last year. Come on: George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges – what can go wrong? Being part of a hillbilly LSD experimental training camp? Hilarious!
How can one write a script based on this that is so stunningly dull? It really eludes me how you can downsize the hilarity of each element to form just a patchwork of irrelevant and fleetingly funny bits and pieces. Not even the poisoning of whole battalion (or whatever the measure word for these people is) of soldiers with LSD probes creates any laughter, not even smile. Nothing. This film is nothing. A spectacular and inexplicable waste of talent. What a shame.

%d bloggers like this: