Monthly Archives: May 2013
Total Recall ~ I thought it might be worth taking another look at this 2012 remake of the 1990 scifi classic, especially in the light of seeing Iron Man Three and Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as anticipating Man of Steel later this month. All of these films have one thing in common. Everything you think you know is wrong, here’s the new spin, enjoy the irony and the fun references to what you thought was going on.
Anyone walking into Total Recall, or any of those other flicks, is going to get what they thought they would, and that’s part if the ride. And rollercoaster ride is principally what Total Recall is. It barely ever stops from start to finish, the action is full on forward, barely giving the viewer time to catch their breath.
Those expecting star Colin Farrell to play Arnold Schwarzeneggar are to be disappointed. This flick is both a remake of the 1990 film and loosely (as loosely as the original) based on the Philip K. Dick story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Keep in mind, the original protagonist was based on Richard Dreyfus so Farrell is not right either. As far as cast goes however, only he and antagonist, Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad,” really shine.
The setting is different, rather than Mars, this is set fully on Earth, even as Earth as a tunnel through the world from London to Australia features solidly. It’s still a dystopian future, and our hero still has memory issues and may not be who he thinks he is. Same s#!t, different day, if you’ll pardon the expletive.
The references are plentiful and amusing, as long as you’re not a purist to the first movie, or the story. Just sit back, turn off your brain and enjoy the ride. I loved the flying car chase, amped up unbelievably over the one in The Fifth Element, and the more original vertical/horizontal elevator chase. Bring seat belts!
A Film with Me in It ~ I discovered this flick quite by accident. I was surfing through the channels one afternoon and saw Dylan Moran. I love Dylan Moran. He’s the best part of Shaun of the Dead, and “Black Books” is one of my favorite Britcoms of all time. The film was just at the beginning, so I settled (watched what little I missed in a later viewing) in for what was sure to be entertaining. I was hooked immediately by this dark dark comedy.
Mark, played by this film’s screenwriter Mark Doherty, who lives with his girlfriend and handicapped brother in a flat he’s having trouble keeping. Pierce, his ne’er-do-well friend played by Moran, is a wannabe screenwriter with whom they are trying to write a movie. When Mark’s life begins to unravel, a series of accidents kill several people in his flat in quick succession. As Pierce struggles to ‘fix’ things, very dark hilarity ensues.
High tension, high comedy, dialogue perfect for Moran, direction by Ian Fitzgibbon that apes Hitchcock slyly, this is a fun, but very dark flick. I loved it. This may not be for everyone, but I thought it was great.
The Hangover Part II ~ I saw The Hangover years ago, and was unimpressed. At the time I was more concerned about watching the more inappropriate parts with my in-laws, but I really don’t recall it being all that funny.
On the surface, this sequel seems to have virtually the same plot as the first, only in Thailand, instead of Las Vegas. I liked the story a lot better when it was called Dude, Where’s My Car?. At least that movie was funny, and occasionally entertaining. The more I think about it, the more I think the folks behind Dude should sue the folks behind Hangover.
Am I supposed to care about these characters? It occurs to me if I wanted to be surrounded by morons, there have been several high school reunions I could have attended by now. I did enjoy Paul Giamatti though, while he was a bad guy, and the “Alantown” song (not work or child safe) was amusing, but little else.
Is this funny? No. Do I have to be drunk or high or a fifth grader to understand it or be amused? Maybe. And is there some rule that they can only play one minute of any song throughout the film?
I didn’t see the first Hangover movie by choice. I saw the second out of curiosity and boredom. I will not be seeing the third, unless I’m forced at gunpoint.
Behind the Candelabra ~ I remember Liberace from my childhood. I remember him from the 1966 “Batman” TV show (in syndication, I’m not that old), where his appearance as villainous twin brothers equaled the series’ highest rated episodes. Such was the power of Liberace. He was not only a fabulous piano player, and a faaah-bulous showman, he was a huge star, and a serious draw when it came to stage and screen. When Liberace was on TV, for various reasons, you had to see it, and his stage show, whether in Vegas, New York, or LA, it was always a sensation.
While it wasn’t talked about back then, I think everyone knew Liberace was gay, it was oddly accepted he was different in that way. Liberace was wholesome entertainment. When I heard HBO was making a movie about him, I feared the worst. Especially after recent hack jobs on Phil Spector and Alfred Hitchcock. HBO knows how to make quality television series, but the folks who make their movies are out of control.
When I heard it would be about Liberace and his last lover, Scott Thorson, I knew it would be another smear piece. Thorson’s book of the same name was a memoir in much the same vein as Mommy Dearest.
Then I heard about the casting, and I was intrigued. Michael Douglas as Liberace, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson. Wow. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing, they pull it off, they pull it off mind bogglingly well. When I see a flick with a big name star, if I can stop calling them by name, and believe they are the character, that’s impressive to me. For instance, Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson are always Meryl and Mel to me, but here, this was Liberace and Thorson. The actors’ performances are stunning.
True or not, those performances are scarred by the outrageous and flamboyant story. It may have happened that way, and they may have worn those clothes, but the absurdity of the situations take away from the quality of Douglas and Damon.
It also doesn’t help that the rest of the cast is filled out by comedians and actors doing their crazy best. Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd, Scott Bakula, and Debbie Reynolds, among others, are at their insane peak, equal to Douglas and Damon.
Should you watch it? Definitely. Behind the Candelabra is both time capsule and freakshow, and most importantly a manic showcase for the actors involved, and nowhere near the usual trainwreck we have gotten recently from HBO Films.
Epic ~ The previews for this flick made it look amazing, with a stunning sense of wonder and discovery. They showed a young girl suddenly discovering a whole new world right under her nose, a battle between good and evil fought by tiny leaf men two inches tall.
You see the leaf men immediately in the movie. I couldn’t help but think this movie might have fared better under a veil if secrecy, sort of like what Disney did with Brave. Let the audience experience the sense of wonder and discovery along with our protagonist, like The Wizard of Oz, allow the magic to be seen simultaneously through the heroine’s and audience’s eyes.
That aside, the film has a stunning voice cast, including Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried, Chris O’Dowd, Beyonce, and Pitbull, all putting in great performances. I was really blown away by the voice work, in some portions of the movie, keeping it afloat where the story was failing.
Speak of the devil, the story was horribly predictable and telegraphed early on. Again, this is something else that might have been helped by holding back some in the previews. I was also saddened by a less than memorable score by Danny Elfman, that made me wonder if the man has list his touch.
The Bride and I saw this opening night in 2D as opposed to 3D, hoping to save a few bucks. It appeared flat and fuzzy, and I was assured there were no projection problems. I thought it looked drab, compared to previews (in 3D) I had seen. Perhaps this is one of those films, like Life of Pi, that just needs to be seen in 3D.
All in all, this is a good flick for the little kids, although I wish there hadn’t been so many in the ten o’clock showing we were at. You’re better off waiting for the home release however.