January 2012 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Grey (2012)

Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live or die on this day.
Live or die on this day.

We all will die one day. It's the sad fact of life that people do not want to think about what goes unspoken, but that truth is always there.  Most movies wouldn't want to touch on this fact because it can seriously bum you out, but Joe Carnahan takes this unsettling reality of the world and slaps the audience in the face with it repeatedly in his new film The Grey.

Liam Neeson as Ottway opens the film in voiceover describing that the people he works with in the middle of snowy Alaska as people that society has no use for; you can tell that he doesn’t have any friends in the frozen wilderness. The first fifteen minutes of the film spells out what the movie is going to be about because the dialogue is sparse, with only Liam Neeson’s voiceover as he is writing a letter (possibly a suicide note) to his late wife.

Ottway goes to the bar to have a drink but does not interact with anyone and soon leaves alone to go out and swallow the barrel of his gun.  While kneeling in the snow, ready to pull the trigger, he stops and puts his gun away, to live another day.  Why does he decide to keep living?  It is evident that Ottway has no family and he is s stranger to most of his co-workers but yet he can’t do it, for reasons probably not even known to him. He still has the will to live.


Dark of the Sun (1968)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

It's weird to say this, but I can't think of the last action movie that actually attempted to push the audience outside of their comfort zone. Do you know what I'm talking about? Haywire had some punishing physical violence, but as brutal as it got, its agenda remained to entertain.

Dark of the Sun on the other other hand pushes the audience to being uncomfortable several times throughout its run. If you've ever heard about the atrocities of Post-Colonial Africa, you've already got an idea of the world Dark of the Sun is set; massacres, rapes, and lawless looting and pillaging. Director Jack Cardiff (also the director behind the excellent Girl on a Motorcycle, which definitely deserves a review one of these days) gives the film a visual pop, as the lush beauty of the Congo is soaked in blood and screams.

This film is set in the Congo, as the UN troops keep a crooked in President in power while a murderous warlord reeks havoc in the nation's countryside. The President wants to stay in power, the people are getting massacred, and there doesn't seem to be much anyone can do.


One for the Money (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

A few minutes into One for the Money, I began to slide down into my seat. Was I watching The Bounty Hunter again? Here's the story of a bondsman going after their mark with whom they had a personal stake. In the course of bringing the perp in, they find that they might be innocent and have to work their ass off to save themselves from a hail of gunfire and close situations.

One for the Money luckily escapes the designation of being one of the absolute worst movies I've subjected myself to in the last half decade (like, say, The Bounty Hunter) and instead falls gently towards somewhere in the middle.

Katherine Heigl is Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter on the trail of one of her ex-lovers who's skipped bail. He's Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a former cop with a Gerard Butler-ish smile but significantly less smile wattage. She's new to bounty hunting, so it's good fortune that he and expert bondsman Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) keep interceding in her clumsy shenanigans. The two male stars never share the screen, and it's a shame, since a the movie is exactly a shirtless wrestling match between the two away from descending into pure unbridled female fantasy.

Disregarding that, it's still pretty damn close.


A Dangerous Method (2011)

Of the great Oscar snubs you will hear and read about in the coming weeks there has been a noticeable lack of people wondering why A Dangerous Method wasn't nominated for anything.  It had the air of a prestige picture with David Croenenberg directing the story of someone he clearly admires, a cast led by the white-hot Michael Fassbender, and a screenplay by the Oscar-winning Christopher Hampton based on his own play.  Given how interesting A History of Violence and Eastern Promises utilized the theory of evolution, it seemed a sure-fire stylistic and philosophical slam-dunk to gather these elements in telling the story of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.

Here's the secret, not too many people are complaining because A Dangerous Method is secretly terrible and horrible at hiding that fact.  Maybe folks didn't complain because Fassbender was having a good year and didn't want to state how wooden and unchanging his performance was.  Perhaps they saw Cronenberg fail to do a single interesting thing with the visuals and postulated he was tired from his previous successes.  Or maybe audiences are as full of pomp, simplicity and weighty nothing as this film is.


Haywire (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

The idea of a person embodying pure physical willpower and might is one mostly confined to the realm of the fantastic. Superman, The Hulk, that really big bald boxer from Bugs Bunny cartoons-- all sheer muscular energy wrapped up in one metaphysical package. When these archetypes dip closer to the human spectrum, you'll find Stallone's Rocky or Schwarzenegger's Commando. Sweaty, muscular men who will rip a seat out of a car without even thinking twice about it.

No, seriously, watch Commando again. He really didn't have to rip that damn seat out of the car with his bare hands; he was just showing off.

Now let's take another step back and look at things in the muscular female spectrum; not so much the tone, but the sense of a woman able to physically exert themselves to the limits of human capability. You're going to see a lot on what can politely called the goofy end: the heroes from Resident Evil and Underworld both kick butt, almost extensively through the use of having forehand knowledge of what's going to happen next in the script. There's not too many others in line here-- perhaps the lead from Run Lola Run, though her ability to hit 'Retry' makes her ability to kickass a little moot-- but we're soon past the complete artificiality and onto the genuine article.