The Great Wall – Trailer

Screenshot 2016-07-31 20.19.30

What is it with Matt Damon and comments and/or activities of a racially-dubious nature?

First there were the comments made during his and Ben Affleck’s HBO series–now cancelledProject Greenlight, where Damon finds diversity okay, as long as it’s in its place.

If I recall, that happened sometime last year (or earlier this year).

Now Damon is starring in The Great Wall, where he apparently acts as a savior of the Chinese people.

From the trailer the movie looks like a fantasy–which is fitting in ways the producers probably didn’t take into account–and doesn’t reflect reality (the monsters attacking the Great Wall are a dead giveaway).

That being said, in the multi-cultural world we now live in–which has always been that way, though many people didn’t like to think of it that way, so therefore it wasn’t–it’s in particularly bad taste to have white people come to the rescue of people of color, especially when it doesn’t reflect any objective reality.

That being said, Matt Damon is near the peak of his box office powers.  His most recent movie, Jason Bourne has debuted to $60 million; a nice chunk of change.

And besides,The Great Wall was produced by Legendary Pictures (which was recently purchased by a Chinese company) and is directed by a renown Chinese director, Zhang Yimou and has many Chinese actors in its cast.

So Damon is bringing something to the production besides his whiteness, though I just wish as a person (and as an actor) he were a bit more cognizant of some of the more dubious choices and decisions he seems to make pretty consistently lately.

The Shallows – Trailer 1 & 2

Sometimes I find myself sympathizing with sharks.

Imagine that one day you’re swimming about, doing whatever it is that you do–which for a shark consists primarily of swimming, eating and every once in awhile mating–when an unknown animal suddenly starts making a ruckus nearby.

You have very keen eyesight and can smell blood in the water for literally miles away, though this time it’s motion that draws you.

Uncertain of what you’re dealing with, at first you circle the animal, maybe going in for a nose bump before taking a bite.

I get that no animal–even those that we eat on a regular basis–enjoy or desire being made into, what is for them, a very unhappy meal. That being said, what bothers me about movies like Jaws and if the trailer is any indicator, The Shallows is that they contribute to people anthropomorphizing (giving human characteristics and motivations to non-human creatures) sharks, making them out as being more much sinister than they are.

As I said, no animal wants to be eaten, though that’s just the way the food chain works.

We know, or should know, that demonizing apex predators like sharks, tigers, bears wolves, etc does all predators an injustice because it makes it easier to kill them just for existing, guilty of being true to what they are.

Besides, when all is said and done, no creature kills with the facility and savagery of human beings.

 

Postmortem – Kristy (2014)

Screenshot 2016-02-24 22.01.43Olly Blackburn’s Kristy is one of the better home invasion thrillers, except in this instance the ‘home’ in question is an entire college campus, empty but for a skeleton staff and Justine (Haley Bennett), who’s planning on staying on campus over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Unfortunately for Justine and everyone else, a cult of religious zealots have targeted Justine in the belief that by killing as many Kristy’s as they can–the name apparently means ‘follower of Christ,’–that somehow they’re killing God (as far as motivations go it’s a bit nutty, but then again taking up serial killing pretty much implies that you’re a few cans short of a six-pack anyway).

You also probably noticed that ‘Justine’ isn’t the same name as ‘Kristy,’ though that’s actually a brilliant detail on writer Anthony Jaswinski’s part in that they’re targeting women not because of their name more than them fitting a certain archetype that works with the cultist’s delusion.

That her name isn’t Kristy is irrelevant (to the victim), which is a pretty smart touch.

Though not everything about the movie is so clever, especially when it shows the tendency of the filmmakers to create unrealistic situations that exist only to bring about a certain outcome, as opposed to feeling organic.

In the scene in question, Justine/Kristy is on the run from the killers–they have already dispatched the two security guards on campus–and she manages to reach the house of the groundskeeper.

Now here’s when things go (mildly) awry.  The groundskeeper not only has a huge rotweiler, but also a shotgun, while the killers just have an assortment of bladed weapons (axes, knives, etc).

It’s worth mentioning that there are at least four of them, but by my math a huge dog and a shotgun more than even up the odds.

And speaking of the dog, this thing probably weighs somewhere in the ballpark of 50-60 pounds; the point being, that’s a lot of pissed-off animal to dispatch with just a knife.

And I’m calling bs on that.  I am not saying that they weren’t capable of killing it, what I am saying is that there’s little chance that at least one of the four wouldn’t have been mauled before it happened.

Then there’s the matter of dispatching the groundskeeper.  When his dog runs outside, he sees something, and fires.  Someone then grabs the barrel of the shotgun from the side, and pulls him with it.

The next time we see the groundskeeper, he’s being hung from a children’s swing.  Now, why there was even a children’s swing there in the first place–they’re not too common on college campuses–but that he was disarmed seemingly with such ease in the first place is also a tad unbelievable.

Though those are relatively minor quibble, ones which most people will probably not let get in the way of their enjoyment of a clever home invasion thriller.

The Purge 3: Election Year – Trailer

Screenshot 2016-02-12 19.49.08.pngYou can’t say that James DeMarco’s Purge movies aren’t ambitious.  The first in the series was essentially a high-concept home invasion thriller with horror overtones.

The sequel, The Purge: Anarchy took the home invasion idea, and introduced it into a city-sized canvas. This was the movie where you can see inklings of a political consciousness to the barbarous kull coming to the fore.

And with The Purge: Election Year events come to a head as the political system that spawned the monstrous assault on flesh and civil liberties, itself comes under assault.

That being said, I hope the movie uses its more overtly political thrust to to satirize some of our current politicians, which would not only could be fun, but add an extra layer of interest.

By the way, why is it that online dictionaries don’t have the word ‘kull?’  I know it’s a word, but apparently few other people do.

Update:  The reason the dictionary doesn’t have ‘kull’ is because it’s traditionally spelled ‘cull.’  Duh.

10 Cloverfield Lane – Official Trailer #1

original Cloverfield trailer

Can we just accept that found footage movies, as a sub-genre, are for the most part indescribably lame (The Blair Witch Project gets a pass because it was the first, and who doesn’t like shiny new toys)?

Most movies, especially genre-favorites like science fiction and horror (and increasingly dramas) require a suspension of belief to become immersed in the story.  The burden for found footage movies is particularly onerous because you not only have to accept whatever (typically outlandish) scenario animates the movie, but you also have to believe that a normal human being–when chased by a giant monster, a hockey-masked killer, inbred cannibals or whatever–will risk their lives to keep filming, despite that what typically happens when you film and run at the same time is a nausea-inducing mess (unless you have a Steadicam. that is).

This would bother me less if it weren’t for the fact that if I even think too hard while shooting video, it looks like the camera was caught in a hurricane (that’s an exaggeration, though not by much).

Which is why I feel a bit better about 10 Cloverfield Lane.  While not a sequel to Cloverfield per se, it at least looks like it was filmed as a film, so there’s that.

10 Cloverfield Lane trailer

We Need To Talk About Kevin – Review

Screenshot 2016-01-11 20.47.33.pngNow this is a horror movie (in perhaps the truest sense of the term).

Lynn Ramsey’s We Need To Talk About Kevin isn’t necessarily a scary film, though don’t let the seemingly placid facade fool you, because here lie monsters.  Though, unlike in most horror movies, these creatures don’t wear hockey masks or look like an experiment in acupuncture gone awry.

Instead they look like you and me, and by the time they reveal their true nature, it’s too late.

Tilda Swinton is Eva Khatchadourian, and you can tell by the way people react to her that she’s was somehow involved with something really terrible.

(The movie doesn’t for most of its running time let on why it is that she’s so reviled by most people in her community, though it becomes abundantly clear soon enough).

The movie flashes forward and backward in time, and it’s apparent that Eva was in a much better place in the past and the movie navigates an uncharted middle ground.

In that perhaps idealized place we meet her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly), her son Kevin (Rock Duer, as a toddler; Jasper Newell, from 6-8 years old and Ezra Miller, as a teenager) and daughter Celia (Ashley Gerasimovich).

From the outside looking in Eva’s family probably seemed an ideal one, though under closer scrutiny you could see faults undermining their supposedly happy lives.

Though there’s something about Kevin that’s a bit off, and the challenge is to see if you can spot where he goes off the rails.

And that moment never quite arrives, though the movie doesn’t spend too much time speculating as to why Kevin does what he does, but when he cries for attention, he makes sure that everyone pays attention.

And We Need To Talk About Kevin will do the same to you.

 

We Need To Talk About Kevin is currently on Netflix,

 

The Visit – Review

The Visit movie posterThe Visit is possibly the best M. Night Shyamalan movie since The Sixth Sense.

I’m serious.  It’s that good, though why don’t I start at the beginning.

When I first saw the trailer for The Visit I died just a little bit inside.  M. Night Shyamalan with The Sixth Sense showed such promise that when I saw his other movies, like The Village, Signs, The Happening–oh my god, The Happening!–I’ve pretty much accepted that all that promise, all that potential, was done (The Village and Signs weren’t so much bad than predictable though The Happening?  i’m getting a migraine just thinking about it).

And I mean the stick a ‘fork in his ass’ type of done.

I could see it now…two kids go to visit their grandparents, add a twist; grandparents end up being monsters, zombies, whatever, and movie ends.

But Shyamalan does something brilliant here, and the trailer is a part of it.  He crafts a movie experience (I hate when people call sitting on your ass watching a movie an ‘experience.’) that ends up being the most meta movie that I have ever seen because it’s not only about what you see on the surface.  It’s about Shyamalan himself, and how he has come to know that his shtick was growing a bit tired, so he changes it up in a BIG way.

I mean it.  There are few movies that I have seen this year that I have enjoyed as much.  It initially looks like what l we’ve come to expect from him, with the addition of a found footage element (which isn’t a good thing.  See: Area 51).

But once the awesomeness that’s The Visit comes up and slaps you upside the head, there’s no way that you can call it anything else but remarkable.

The movie takes your expectations and tells you to go fuck youself, because it’s going to do whatever it wants, and you’re going to sit there and like it.

And you know what?  I think you will because I know I did.