January 2012 - Page 2 of 5 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
27Jan/120

Kubruary! …yeah, we’re stretching it.

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26Jan/120

Restless (2011)

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Take one look at the poster for Restless at the end.  Does this look like another indie romance in the vein of Gigantic or Eagle Versus Shark?  You wouldn't be wrong by saying "yes", but more in the spirit of what Gus Van Sant is trying to accomplish by saying "no".

That said, there are very few indications you will avoid the astonishingly shallow world of the indie romance.  They aren't helped by a basic plot description, which includes such wonderful phrases as "main character who speaks to the dead" and "romantic interest with a Diane Keaton fashion fetish who so happens to be dying."  If you were to tell me those details without mentioning who the creative forces behind Restless are I would tell you that God has unknowingly allowed one of the worst movies in creation to wander the Earth.

Instead, Van Sant has crafted the ultimate rebuttal to the indie romance.  It is as Breaking Dawn is to the supernatural romance world, a biting indictment of how the Eagles Versus Shark's of the world are doing their characters a disservice by allowing them to wallow in their fantasies.  Instead, it does something far smarter by gliding through a film which realizes the idiocy of the idealistic quirky romance and still somehow staying respectful to it.

25Jan/120

The Whistleblower (2011)

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A long time ago, there was a film called Kiss the Girls which introduced the world to a fresh and tough talent by the name of Ashley Judd.  She was one of the few female actresses trapped in a thriller who fought to make it her own and portrayed a lead in the vein of Linda Hamilton instead of Goldie Hawn.  Then, for many years, she dipped back into that well until now when I can say an Ashley Judd-type role and half the work of explaining what the role entails is done for me.

The Whistleblower mines the old Judd well for cinematic inspiration and the life of Kathryn Bolkovac for its story-line.  Rachel Weisz is in the Ashley Judd role, playing a hardened (if not quite cynical) cop who decides to make some money by going to Bosnia (remember Bosnia?  America forgets wars fast) and playing peacemaker for the U.N.  Along the way she gets caught up investigating a sex-slave conspiracy and putting herself in harms way to find the truth.

21Jan/120

Red Tails (2012)

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"...negroes are incapable of bravery."
-Memorandum for the Chief of Staff regarding Employment of
Negro Man Power in War, November 10, 1925-
"That's bullshit."
-Guy in the seat behind me, January 20, 2012-

Red Tails, for all of its faults, admirably goes on to show just how correct the gentleman in the second quote is and how stupid the first quote always was.  It's a "gee whiz" summer action flick released in the dead of winter when the ice is falling from the sky in BB-sized bits and audiences clamor in from the cold to feel a little better about everything.  For those who find themselves in Red Tails, good for you, I hope you leave applauding like the crowd I attended the film with.

In spite of the many flaws present in the film, this was a great entertainment to start the year off with.  True, it hits a lot of the same tired story beats we're all too familiar with (you can see the death clock ticking away over one character after he gets engaged), and the quieter moments lack any sort of nuance.  But, when all is said and done, so what?  The film is done with style, giving weight and heft to the first chapters of the Tuskegee Airmen with clarity and joy, if not exactly burdened by the weight of historical expectation.

21Jan/120

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

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I remember being pretty neutral to the first Underworld. It was a decent enough mash-up of The Matrix and the World of Darkness rpg series, but I never bothered watching the sequels. The whole “vampires vs. werewolves” idea was interesting for one film, but got old pretty quickly.

The newest installment, Awakening, at least offered something new by throwing humans in the mix. What new intrigue would this bring to the world of Underworld? As it turns out, nothing, really.

A quick warning: If this is your first excursion into the Underworld mythos, too bad. Awakening gives zero fucks if you haven't seen those films. Why are werewolves and vampires fighting? Why does Kate Beckinsale have cooler super-powers than the other vampires? Why is that werewolf blue? What's the deal with hybrids?

You'd better check the wiki because this film just doesn't have time to explain the “rich” history of Underworld.