REVIEW: Hitchcock

30 11 2012

It’s such a magical feeling when a movie gets you intoxicated not only on itself but on the entire craft of cinema as well.  You go into a dark room and carry in whatever baggage from the day, but you emerge joyful, reinvigorated, and transformed.

That’s how I felt when I walked out of the theater after a rapturously good time with “Hitchcock.”  Sacha Gervasi’s slice-of-biopic flick, focusing on the time when the master of suspense struggled to get “Psycho” made, strikes the right chords throughout the film.  It respects the mastery of Hitchcock but does not fear him as an untouchable deity, treating him as a man and artist just like anyone else.

But Gervasi’s film is more than just about Hitchcock or even the artistic climate into which he released what is still one of the best horror films ever made.  Clear parallels are drawn to the current day world of film production.  You know, the world where an unambitious movie like “John Carter” gets greenlit and causes a $150 million write-down while a masterpiece like “Black Swan” has to scrap together a budget but reaps it back 25 times over.

We now know Alfred Hitchcock as the legendary Hitchcock, but in his time, he struggled to have studio support for a movie that did not fit neatly into convention – even when coming off the enormous success of “North by Northwest.”  Thankfully, Hitchcock had faith in his own vision and was willing to finance it himself at enormous financial risk.

And Gervasi has wielded the knife of excoriation to jab at executives who were only looking to make a profit out of movies.  There are also a number of well-placed ironic remarks about the supposed failure of “Vertigo.”  You know, that movie that recently replaced “Citizen Kane” as the best film of all time according to Sight and Sound.  The myopia of Hollywood is lade bare to be mocked and criticized.  History has repeat itself with a vengeance.

Read the rest of this entry »

REVIEW: Total Recall

2 08 2012

I was fully strapped into the 2012 remake of “Total Recall” – which, by the way, is probably the first of many frightening remakes of ’90s films that will make me feel old and nostalgic – for the first two acts.  It was working a bullet-riddled “Inception” or “Shutter Island” angle, and I was preparing for a climax that had a cerebral twist on the average adrenaline rush.

Well, I waited in vain.  While people tend to blame Christopher Nolan for the sorry state of action films that are not in the “Batman” franchise, he’s hardly the most influential figure in the genre these days.  Few try to emulate his dark twist on the familiar because even an ambitious failure requires some ambition and effort.  The Nolan-inspired blockbusters are still few and far between.

“Total Recall” winds up in the Michael Bay category of action flick, adhering to his “there’s nothing like a good destruction scene” principle.  Every time Len Wiseman’s movie seems to be taking a turn towards the intelligent or the thoughtful, someone starts getting chased, someone fires a gun, or something just gets blown towards the heavens.  It’s not quite as bad in the beginning as you attempt to puzzle out whether Colin Farrell’s Douglas Quaid is just a normal man thrown into extraordinary circumstances like a Hitchcock hero … or a cold-blooded mercenary brainwashed into believing he’s average like Liam Neeson in last year’s dull thriller “Unknown.”

But in the end, Wiseman decides that it’s better to just blow people up rather than provide answers or catharsis.  Who needs to tie up storylines when you can just sever their heads instead?  Moreover, who needs to blow our minds with a statement on the subjectivity of reality when you can blow our minds and some buildings with pyrotechnics? As such, “Total Recall” makes for an intellectually unfulfilled experience.  Though on the bright side, he does give us the ridiculously awesome Kate Beckinsale as the best female gunslinger since Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl in “Kick-Ass.”  Her unstoppable ruthlessness is as hilarious as it awesome … well, probably more on the hilarious side since her hair manages to stay so perfect even as she gets the snot kicked out of her.  B-

REVIEW: New Year’s Eve

2 01 2012

What were you doing this new year’s eve?  I hope you were celebrating with those you love or just celebrating in general.  But if you happened to be at the movie theater, I pray that you were nowhere near the egregious load of crap disguised as a movie called “New Year’s Eve.”  If you were one of those looking to get in the holiday spirit, I surmise you walked out not blissful for the year to come but rather disgusted that movies like this are allowed to exist.

Only see the movie for the following reasons:

1. You for some reason like to watch bad actors doing bad acting.  Yes, Katherine Heigl, you should not have spit in Judd Apatow’s face because he actually gave you a multi-dimensional character.  Now, enjoy being stuck in movies like this and “Life As We Know It” for the rest of your life.  Zac Efron … it’s official, your glory days were in the “High School Musical” era.  And in case you need a reminder, many musicians can’t act – looking at you, Ludacris and Jon Bon Jovi.  Oh, and Lea Michele too, who somehow to forgot how to act between “Spring Awakening” and “New Year’s Eve,” picking up how to be a gratingly obnoxious diva.  (Wait, she got that from “Glee!”  Thanks a lot, Ryan Murphy…)

2. You for some reason like to watch good actors doing bad acting.  Can you count the Oscar wins and nominations on this poster?  13 Oscar nominations and 5 wins.  While we can’t get the Academy to reclaim the statues (and indeed they shouldn’t), we as a public can take away their credibility and prestige.  I just don’t understand why Robert DeNiro can’t seem to stop the out-of-control downward spiral that is his career.  Strangely enough, the most unbearable members of the cast is a horserace between two-time Oscar champion Hilary Swank and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer.  Any good will for a career comeback after “Hairspray” just went down the drain.

Read the rest of this entry »