naked weapon (2002)

by zEke

naked weapon es, tal y como en su día dijo un sabio, una obra de arte. Pero como en tantas otras ocasiones, y sin ánimo de ofender, la miel no se hizo para la boca del asno. Con esto quiero decir que es necesario ser un iniciado para saber apreciar lo que esta producción made in Hong Kong esconde, de la misma manera que para un estadounidense medio el fútbol son sólo veintidós jugadores pasándose el balón sin ton ni son.

Las películas de kung fu se caracterizan por lo particular de su guión, su interpretación y su coreografía. El guión es lo de menos y muchas veces incluso negativo, aunque eso sí, siempre al servicio del entretenimiento del espectador más exigente, a la par que freak. En naked weapon la excusa es el secuestro de cuarenta niñas menores de quince años por parte de una organización liderada por Madam M. Su objetivo, convertirlas en asesinas, y para ello les enseña artes marciales, además de a manejarse con soltura en la pasarela, la mesa y la cama. Pero sólo puede quedar una, así, el último día de instrucción se convierte en lo más parecido al deporte favorito de Héctor del Mar que ha visto el cine, the marine (2006) y otros experimentos a parte. Sobra decir que las cuarenta niñas se convierten en jóvenes que quitan el hipo. Ni una fea, vamos. Para cuando han sido instruídas se ha esfumado ya media película por lo que la segunda parte se convierte en un mejunje sin sentido del que emerje un malo más malo que Madam M y un policía intentando resolver el caso de las niñas desaparecidas. Pero a quien le importa, digo yo. Continue reading

king of california (2007)

by zEke

king of california posterIt has been a while since the last time Michael Douglas managed to catch my attention. The last time might have been with his performance in traffic (2000), even though he was just one more among a neverending cast. After that, he has tried to relaunch his career with comedies to forget like the in-laws (2003) and wannabe thrillers like the sentinel (2006). No luck there. And then, out of nowhere, when I had already forgotten about Kirk’s son he steps right onto the independent scene to portray a charming madman turned into a treasure hunter. A treasure hunter that could perfectly be an older and demented version of Jack Colton from romancing the stone (1984) and its sequel.

Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood) is a Californian lonely young girl that has been taking well care of herself ever since his dad, or Charlie (Michael Douglas), as she likes to call him, was admitted in a mental hospital. She is an employee at a fast food restaurant and lives a simple and easy life. She does until Charlie is released and brings home a dream with him. The dream of finding a long lost Spanish treasure that is buried somewhere near their suburban house. Armed with an old Spanish diary, treasure-hunting books, a metal detector, and a shovel, he starts his delusional hunt. Continue reading

there will be blood (2007)

by zEke

there will be blood posterThe suggestive title everyone is talking about. Or should I say the brilliant performance everyone is talking about? Paul Thomas Anderson’s there will be blood is his very own free adaptation of the Upton Sinclair’s novel oil (1927) about the early days of the American oil business. And I probably should not say adaptation since, as Anderson acknowledges, there is too much of the novel that inspired him left behind. But, who says a filmmaker cannot take a novel and draw something new but yet impregnated with the novel’s essence? There would be then minor room for cliché statements that claim that a particular novel is better than the movie based on it. I am so tired of them. Give to cinema what is cinema’s and to literature what is literature’s.

The events remind me of those of older films, and I am not just thinking about giant (1956). The rise and fall of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), that is, an oil man who makes his way up from down low. This epic has the taste, and the length, of past times, but with a dark and bitter twist to it. Continue reading

the nines (2007)

by zEke

the nines (2007)the nines. I take a deep breath. I don’t even know how to start. Certainly a movie difficult to label, which a priori is neither good nor bad. A movie that made its debut at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and became later a minor cult classic for some, despite its limited theatrical release.

The experience is divided into three shorts that share the same actors, who play different characters. Are they really different? The answer to that question is obvious, otherwise we would not be talking about a feature film. Everything turns around Ryan Reynolds’ characters, a successful actor under home arrest firstly, an effeminate scriptwriter secondly, a responsible family man thirdly. And that said, you better know nothing more about the plot itself. Continue reading

sweeney todd: the demon barber of fleet street (2007)

by zEke

sweeney todd posterOnce again Tim Burton. Once again a musical. This time, though, with real actors. And among them, once again, Johnny Depp. And it has been already six the collaborations between the Gothic filmmaker and the idiosyncratic performer. They dare now to reinvent the Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical of the same title, a musical that hit Broadway back in 1978 and has been touring since. Of course, and these days this is not news anymore, the story of the demon barber of Fleet street had been visited many times before, including three minor feature films in the thirties and a recent television movie with Ben Kingsley. On the other hand, being a character so popular in the English folklore that is not surprising.

Fictional or not, Sweeney Todd is an English villain and serial killer that has appeared in English language works since the nineteenth century. He is a barber that cuts his victims’ throats with a straight razor. Victims, whose corpses are baked later into meat pies and sold by Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crime.

This is precisely the cornerstone of Burton’s film. The barber Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) is unjustly sentenced to a life of forced labor in Australia by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) who steals from him his wife and daughter. Fifteen years later he escapes and is back in London, where he meets baker Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), seeking revenge as Sweeney Todd.

This is, above all, a movie that moves along through songs rather than dialog. It is through the songs that the story is delivered. Those who love the genre will be in their element. Nevertheless, those who are not friends with songs on screen will have a hard time to let themselves be seduced by a story that develops at a low pace for longer than they would have liked it. After the solid preamble the action stabilizes and Burton beats around the bush while waiting for an excellent but late final bloody climax. Something I cannot argue is the excellence of the setting, the beautifully shot black and blood (loads of) London that Burton’s camera goes constantly through, the melancholy of a decadent scenario, the power of the omnipresent tunes, in one word, the style. Yes, this movie is stylish, yes it is.

And then Depp. Truth is, none of the characters he plays can be labeled as usual. Sweeny Todd is just another eccentric odd character to add to his long collection of freak performances. And, to be honest, it is obvious to me that he really enjoys performing those characters. You can like his mannerisms more or less, but you cannot deny that each of his performances drink of his joy for good. Here, he knows how to get his character drunk of the dark humor and melancholy that the film emanates. Bonham Carter, who tends to make me think all the characters she performs are relatives, counts one less collaboration with Burton, despite of being the mother of his son. About Rickman I will just say he shows the same exact faces he showed in perfume: the story of a murderer (2006).

Being overall a decent movie, one leaves the cinema convinced that the three hour long musical might have definitely been more amusing.

For the deadhours of gothics and those who were missing the scissors of Edward and do not need much to be content.

deadrate: δair

official site | imdb

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dr. plim’s word

God… what a bad movie.

I watched this movie over 2 months ago and when I found out that it had been nominated for an Academy Award, a.k.a. The Oscars, (Johnny Depp for best performance by an actor in a leading role) I just had to write something about it.

Firstly, I don’t accept the excuses like “this is a Tim Burton movie”, or “you have to like Tim Burton to appreciate this movie”. It is true that movies have different genres but if we kept making up classifications for each director then there would be no standard of “good movie” or “bad movie”. Instead it would be “Coen brothers movie”, “Tim Burton movie”, “Almodóvar movie” etcetera etcetera. Directors do have their individual styles but something more than that is necessary to make a good movie.

Secondly, the lyrics to the songs are really trivial. Perhaps that was totally intentional, he meant to make the characters say in song (and I have a real hard time calling it “song”!) exactly the same phrases two random people say to each other.

Thirdly, the plot is boring. The movie felt slow and boring.

Forthly, Johnny Depp plays a person with no-affect. He has the same expression the whole time. Ok, he is playing someone who is traumatized and it is true that such people can be challenged in terms of showing emotion… so he should have won the Oscar for best traumatized-no-affect actor.

Tim Burton, director of some great movies such as beetle juice (1988), batman (1989), who can forget edward scissorhands (1990), the animated the night before christmas (1993), the funny mars attacks (1996), and the smart big fish (2003). sweeney todd sure contains his signature of noir, or gore, but lacks in terms of acting, in terms of plot, and in terms of the words that come out of their mouths.

deadrate: εad

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