Friday, April 19, 2002

Anyone else knocked into the middle of next year by the incredibly strange idea that First Season's favourite director, David Fincher, will be shouting "Action!" on the set of Little Tommy Cruise's forthcoming "Mission: Impossible 3" ?

This would presumably be the same David Fincher who brought you such classics as "Se7en", "The Game", "Fight Club" and the positively imminent "Panic Room". And, "Alien 3", which isn't really his fault (Check out the current issues of "Hotdog" and "Total Film" magazines for more of the true story about the beating he took on his first, widely-lamented feature film project).

The "Head-in-the-box!" guy. The cinematic architect of the finest 'Novel-to-film' transition ever attempted. The bard of movie nihilism and black irony. The fella with the nice wispy beard. Yep, him...

I can think of no more unlikely candidate to helm "M:I-3", and that's kind of why the prospect is not without it's own, perverse charm. Fincher's stuff is generally so diametrically opposed to the "Mission..." franchise (Just watch the 'Lust' segment of "Se7en" or the opening minutes of "Fight Club" and try to figure out just how this dude is ever going to helm a summer popcorn flick), that the resultant clash of ideas should be a cinematic headrush to savour. Or dread. You pick.

Summer 2004, by all accounts....

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It's like grown-up, and insightful and stuff. As in, the polar opposite of this indifferently-executed, poorly-structured piffle. Go read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

I don't really feel like reviewing it, because it more or less wasted ninety perfectly good minutes of my life that I will never get back, but I do want to mention the latest Julia Roberts rom-com to debut on horrible VHS tape and lovely DVD, courtesy of those prolific types at Columbia Tri-Star Home Video.

"America's Sweethearts" (12)is one of those movies which has everything in it's corner and then singularly depresses by refusing to make good on it's promise.

The cast reads like a wishlist for any filmmaker. Aside from the world's most popular female movie star (That would be the broad with the big gob) , this wannabe Hollywood satire stars the ever watchable John Cusack (Now making a habit of taking the money and running in projects like this), the never-terribly-interesting-but-undeniably-luminous Catherine Zeta-Jones, scene-stealingly evil Stanley Tucci, the always deadpan and hilarious Seth Green, everyone's favourite green eyeball, Billy Crystal (Who also co-wrote) and, best of all, the unfeasibly godlike Christopher Walken.

By the laws of averages, this one shouldn't fail.

But, of course, it does. Mostly because the two major plotlines are at odds for the majority of the film's running time. The section of the film which deals with the tantrums, egos and everyday insanity of Hollywood is compelling and promising, but always gets pushed to one side in favour of a genuinely dull, warmed-over, positively mechanical series of oh-so-typical romantic comedy contrivances and cliches.

Given the wealth of talent in play here, you would hope that all involved would want to make something that's a little more sophisticated than your average episode of "Friends", but no such luck. Director Joe Roth seems afraid to introduce any remotely uncomfortable home truths about the movie industry into the picture, jettisoning the funny early stuff with Cusack's frazzled movie star Eddie's stay in a New Age sanitorium in favour of fairly uninspired, woefully lacking farceur schtick and "Ain't Love Grand?" platitudes.

If you do fancy checking it out, it's probably worth doing so just to check out Christopher Walken's work as a spectacularly out-of-it, maverick movie director (Terence Malick, by way of Abel Ferrara) and Billy Crystal's patented line in nervous, aimiable comic grandstanding.

But, to be honest, I probably wouldn't bother.

Click on this and be transported to a world of hearty chortles and a smidgeon of knowing fear

I'm really ticked off with Play.com at the moment. Sure, they slash the price of DVD movies, CD albums and console games by a hefty percentage (And are more or less responsible for the absurdly bulging shelves which make my front room such a dangerous place to visit), but they love to make me wait.

"Amelie" came out on Monday, and Play are selling Jean-Pierre Jeunet's existance-affirming modern classic at £14.99, which is a fiver's saving on the price that you might pay in shops - No complaints there. But I pre-ordered this flick around two weeks ago, and they've only just gotten around to processing my order, which means that I should get it some time in the next week. If they can be arsed.

Jeez, at this rate, I might have to go back to buying DVDs in shops and rubbing shoulders with the general public. And, as any well-read Jean-Paul Sartre phile will happily attest, the general populace are best avoided. Especially when they've got the copy of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" that I had my eye on in the HMV sale. Even the judicious employment of my patented, v.v. scary "Wolverine Growl" didn't dissuade this rare discerning punter from putting the disc down and backing away sharpish.

I'm off to growl at cars - See y'all later.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

"Blade 2" (18) Entertainment Film Distributors cinema release

You all remember the first "Blade" movie, right? Director Steve Norrington and producer/star Wesley Snipes urgent, blood-soaked update of the 1970's Marvel comic book series about a half-human/half-vampire outcast, and his sword-wielding efforts to rid the world of his undead foes. Whilst not being the most original action flick to ever unspool in a cinema, it had it's fair share of incidental pleasures, not the least of which being the sight of Stephen Dorff having his ass handed to him by buffed, slick, just slightly camp urban avenger Snipes.

If you liked the first film's entertaining blend of lo-fi, gritty Kung-Fu actioneering and downbeat, 70's Blaxploitation plotting, you're going to be in Hog Heaven when you check out Guillermo del Toro's absolutely insane, over-cranked, head-crunchingly violent sequel. No guff. As sequels go, this flick is up there with the unofficial film geek's trilogy of "The Godfather Part 2", "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Aliens" in terms of go-for-broke, headlong follow-ups which arguably outpace their originators and quite emphatically confirms del Toro as a contemporary genre auteur deserving to be spoken of in the same terms as Fincher, the Wachowskis and Cameron.

I liked it, in short.

"Blade 2" picks up where the last film left off, with our eponymous hero laying waste to the unfortunate bloodsuckers of Prague, as he tries to find his mentor, Abraham Whistler (The incomparable, immortal Kris Kristofferson), who didn't die off-screen, as we suspected, at the end of the first movie. Rather than succumbing to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Whistler was kidnapped, turned by vampires and then kept alive as bait to lure Blade into the open, which as bone-headed plans go, is up there with the "Let's jack some trucks and nick a few DVD players!" motivation of the gang in "The Fast And The Furious". Complaints, though, are by the by, because this textbook contrivance by writer/producer David S. Goyer serves only to set the mayhem in motion and provides probably the most exhaustingly-staged, thrillingly-filmed action sequence to come along since that Parisian tour boat punch-up in Jet Li's "Kiss Of The Dragon" last summer.

There is a plot, of course - Blade's concerns about the throat-drinking transformation of his old friend are abruptly cut short by the intercession of the Vampire Nation, whose ancient power base is being drastically eroded by the arrival on the scene of Reapers - Super vampires who make the current motley crew of Goth tarts look as threatening as a night out with Jamie Oliver and that chirpy gal from C4's property-hunting funfest, "Location, Location, Location".

Head Reaper Jared Nomak is unforgettably played by Luke Goss, who the battle-scarred amongst you will remember as one third of 80s pop gumbies, Bros - He's quite unrecognizable here, and actually kind of effective in his role as a mutant vampire, whose feeding apparatus soon banishes any thoughts of Lestat, Angel or the other romantic heroes provided by pop culture in the recent past. Nomak's cake hole, you see, is the stuff of abject horror and had me thinking of a cross between the Predator, A Great White shark and the nightmarish bits of medical textbooks. When I wasn't attempting to hide under my seat, that is (I fully intend to send del Toro and Goyer my therapy bills following this flick, and you should too)

There's so much to enjoy in this movie that space prevents me from wittering on about Ron Perlman's perfect performance as the hugely pissed-off Reinhardt, chief vampire adversary to Blade and the nominal, Alpha Male leader of the Bloodpack. Or the Bloodpack, itself - a gang of hardcore, bloodsucking assassins assembled by the Vampire Nation to hunt down Blade, and put in play to team up with their intended target to hunt down the Reapers. And the odd poetry of the final scene between our hero and the prettily wooden Leonor Varela, who plays Blade's nominal love interest with balsa-like over-emphasis - Although, to be fair, she is the designated Exposition Girl and gets to explain whole, galluping chunks of plot to the rest of the cast.

Have I done enough to convince you of the merits of this flick, yet, fellow web-crawlers? Suffice is to say that you need this movie in your life. It rocks along at such a pace, that both a sequel and the next movie from del Toro will be eagerly awaited in this parish, if nowhere else.

How can you refuse any movie with Danny John-Jules (AKA, The Cat in "Red Dwarf") as a suave, gymnastic Vamp Ninja? That's right, you can't. Go see. That's an order, soldier.

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