Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

I've never seen one of the Leprechaun movies before. This one was streaming on Netflix, so we just watched it and... well, I can't say I'm sorry I saw it, because some of the intentionally campy bits are actually really hilarious and Warwick Davis is funny as hell and never winks at the audience, so his commitment to playing this evil leprechaun actually works. But overall it just felt like not enough Leprechaun and too much hood, because I ultimately didn't care about the kids trying to make it as rappers (one of whom is Anthony Montgomery from Enterprise) as much as I was enjoying watching the Leprechaun just do his thing. Ice-T is amusing as a pimp/record mogul. *1/2, but recommended if you're hellbent on sitting with an example of late-90s grade Z.

One of the new Hammer offerings. It's a middling thriller about a building landlord (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who stalks and spies on his new tenant (Hilary Swank). I dunno, I was totally rooting for Jeffrey Dean Morgan the whole time. Maybe because he's the only one here with a personality (and barely at that). Nice to have Christopher Lee cameo in the first new Hammer movie, even though he's barely in it and doesn't get a lot to say. Good set design, suitably creepy, but kind of like a warmed-over, less-exciting version of Pacific Heights, which really isn't a good movie to start with. **1/2

WAKE WOOD (2011)
Another new Hammer movie, and definitely their worst film since they revived. Predictable claptrap about a couple who resurrect their dead daughter in order to say goodbye to her, but who comes back... evil or something... for no actual explained reason. There's a bizarre streak of cruelty and animal violence in this flick; I felt like it was totally ineffectual and yet despised me and wanted to hurt me at the same time. No stars.

Opinions seem to vary on the effectiveness or originality of this very meta horror thriller, but I have to say I'm really glad I got to see it at the cinema and without having it spoiled for me, because I found it surprising and very easy to enjoy. Yes, it's a smart movie that comments on all manner of genre aspects, including the one-dimensionality of the victims in slasher movies, the expectations of the audience, the weariness of genre filmmakers with the limitations of horror movies imposed by commercial expectations, and even the whole idea of the Male Gaze in horror movies. And then it gets heady, positing the idea of horror movies as a modern replacement for the dim past of ritualized sacrifice. But it never gets smug about the whole thing; at its heart, it's a slasher flick with a clever gimmick, great special effects, and likable actors. But in practice, it begins as a cliche and builds into one of the most original horror films I've seen in a very long time. ****

Ugh. Three mind-destroyingly boring white guys (Jason Bateman, Charlie O'Day, Jason Sudeikis--seriously, Sudeikis, why leave SNL at all if your bright future includes making movies like this and the even-worse Hall Pass?) are stuck in bad positions with their bosses and decide to kill them. The bosses are cliches played to varying degrees of who the hell cares by Kevin Spacey (basically reprising what he does in the far superior Swimming with Sharks), Colin Farrell (because someone has vastly overrated his ability to be funny), and Jennifer Aniston (embarrassing). Pointless filler with nary a laugh to be found. * I especially found the whole Jennifer Aniston thing to be insulting; apparently the writers felt the only way a woman boss could be horrible is to be an emasculating maneater who sexually harasses you all the time, leading to a lot of uncomfortable scenes with Aniston that just feel forced, like the idea of Jennifer Aniston even playing this character is supposed to be funny. Hollywood seriously needs to stop pretending she's capable of comedy. Also, I've worked for a lot of women bosses, and the bad ones were bad for most of the same reasons bad male bosses are bad. Not that this movie has a realistic idea in its head. (Also, I found it insulting that the male bosses were called by their last names and she was always referred to as "Julia.") Bad movies give you lots of time to think about other things...

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I haven't seen Horrible Bosses, except the very end where it's revealed that they DON'T kill their bosses, presumably making the whole thing rather pointless. Just looking at the box, however, I was offended by the use of the term "maneater," which I feel only Hall and Oates should be allowed to get away with using. When I worked as a cashier at Walmart, it scanned as "Horrible DVD," which sounds about right.