Archive for June, 2010

It’s Date Night….

I Spit on Your Grave is one of those movies that just made me feel dirty when I originally watched it.  The story of a rape survivor who seeks revenge against her attackers had plenty of gratuitous T&A for a film that supposedly was about female empowerment.  Now comes word that Anchor Bay is releasing a remake this fall, and I must admit that I’m stoked.  I really liked the remake of Last House on the Left, another grindhouse classic.  Maybe it’s because the remakes are so hyper-stylized, the casts are so pretty, and the grime is, well, not that grimy.  Plus, this version has Jeff Branson, who comes from the world of soaps!  I love it when soap actors leap to the big screen!  Anyway, I’ll be there opening day, M&M’s in hand.  Check out the trailer here.

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June 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm 1 comment

Review: The A-Team

My friend Maxin once told me that sometimes you just need to let go and enjoy big, dumb movies.  And I agree with her.  How else could I have endured the preposterous Prince of Persia?  Other times, though, a movie isn’t just bad; it’s insulting.  It isn’t just a loud, mindless mix of machismo; instead it becomes emblematic of the worst kind of  movie making–the chest-thumping, “drill, baby, drill” kind of pandering that gets under your skin and festers.  And that, dear readers, sums up The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan’s 21st century reboot of the beloved 1980s television show.

The movie opens with a brief origins story as front-man Col. “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson) and his partner, Lt. “Face” Peck  (Bradley Cooper), meet and join forces with the final two members of their team, B.A. Baracus (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and Murdock (Sharlto Copley).  Flash forward eight years, and the four men are an elite military unit stationed in Iraq.  After successfully completing a black-ops mission to recover US Treasury plates and billions of dollars in counterfeit currency from terrorists, the men find themselves framed for going rogue and killing their commanding officer (Gerald McRaney) to cover their tracks.  Left out to dry by the CIA agent who sent them on the mission (Patrick Wilson, aka the man of my dreams), Hannibal and his men are sent to prison.  Of course, they eventually escape and set on a mission to clear their names.

My problems with The A-Team go beyond mere film making contrivances.  Yes, the dialogue is so testosterone-fueled that it made me choke on my own vomit.  Yes, the loud, obnoxious chases and explosions become repetitive.  (At one point, Hannibal tells the group, “Overkill is underrated,” which I suspect director Caranhan considers a mantra.)  And, yes, the acting is (mostly) terrible.  Neeson’s cigar gnashing is unbearably over the top; Jackson makes the questionable decision to simply mimic Mr. T’s mannerisms and delivery; Copley, so good in District 9, seems uncomfortable and sports a truly horrific southern twang; and Bradley Cooper, while still hot, needs to find something other than the scoundrel shtick.

Despite these faults, the biggest problem I have with The A-Team is rooted in politics.  Not the left vs. right, blue state vs. red state kind of politics, though.  The problem I have is that the four main characters, in trying to prove their innocence, destroy property and kill innocent men (members of the U.S. military, no less), with nary a hint of remorse.  Face laughingly takes command of an Army tank and begins shooting down the pilots chasing them–in other words, other Army men simply obeying orders to bring in fugitives.  Director Carnahan shoots and scores a pivotal moment in which Baracus forsakes his vows against murder with the sole intention of creating Pavolvian cheers from the audience.  Okay, I know.  Summer movies are supposed to be about shoot ’em ups and explosions.  I get that.  But why does a film that glorifies death and violence as much as The A-Team does get a PG-13 rating, while a movie like, say, The House of the Devil, which is far less violent, gets slapped with an R rating?

Maxin is right that movies should be enjoyed.  And I knew going in that I probably would not embrace this movie.  (Full disclosure:  My only reasons to see this movie were shirtless Bradley Cooper scenes, which are thankfully plenty, and Patrick Wilson.)  Still, I was tempted to walk out many times during this mess, and I want to save all of you from being subjected to its torture.  Looking for a fun summer movie?  Go see Get Him to the Greek instead.

June 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm 3 comments



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