24 March, 2005

Surfin' Multiplex: I (heart) Huckabees, Constantine, Les Choristes, Team America : World Police

More Short Cuts:

I (heart) Huckabees

This is a film I loved, but at the same time would be unsurprised to find that others hated. I wouldn't try to dissuade them either. It is a maddening uneven film, with narcissistic characters, it plays out as a comedy of conflict between competing philosophies, existential positivism and existential nihilism, and it goes down a couple of pointless blind alleys along the way. Not a universal cup-of-tea.

Also, it's good to see Lily Tomlin in a featured role, and proof that Dustin Hoffman can still do comedy (despite so much proof to the contrary...). If you go to see it, ignore the plot about the environmentalists and Shania Twain, that's just a distraction.


Both as entertaining and run-of-the mill as these comic book adaptations get. Keanu Reeves has found a barely emoting gruff action film noir character perfect for his barely emoting film acting. He plays a paranormal action exorcist (no, really), who, with the help of nifty special effects mediates in the conflict between demons and angels. A Cold War, where the unearthly powers may merely "influence" man. The war is hotting up with demons breaking the terms of this truce.

Rachel Weisz, an actress that I would gladly worship, plays a twin guilt ridden psychic cop, whose twin perhaps committed suicide after being committed for not being in denial about her paranormal visions.

The only major problem is that in the end the film builds to a suitable kick-ass climax which quickly becomes an anti-climax, degenerating into a verbal argument as to whether Lucifer should be upset with his son for breaking the rules of his pact with God. I liked it despite that, but can only recommend it to those who like this sort of thing, or are hot for Rachel (that should be enough for the film to break even....)

Les Choristes

This is the kind of heartwarming film that seems authentic rather than saccharine, if only because of the subtitles. Two old friends get together to reminisce about the teacher at their reform school who formed a chorus as a way of reaching these incorrigibles (in-corr-ig-bles in French). The ragamuffins are so cute and grimy you already expected them to burst into song, probably, "Food Glorious, Food" and the villainous headmaster is so standardly sadistic you expect him to either shout "More! he wants more!" or threaten to send the runaways to another Stalag. This is tempered with the unrequited attraction of the good teacher to one of his student's mum's, a student coming to appreciate the consequences of his unintentionally violent prank, and the threat of real violence from the bully arsonist.

The best singer in the class, is of course, one of the worst students, but is secretly a musical prodigy. It's a little much that he's also stupidly angelic looking. At least, being European, they can get away with an ending that is both uplifting and downbeat at the same time. As they say in France, "let them have cake.... and eat it....."

Team America : World Police

Americans out to save the world, blithely unaware of the swathe of destruction left by their path, no, it's not the neo-cons and Iraq, it's Team America World Police.

I saw this in the perfect place, a crowded rep cinema in central London with a studenty twenty something audience, possessing no unswerving USA patriotism, and an appreciation of the lack of irony of those who do. What I would probably have viewed as a mildly amusing send up of action movies and xenophobia, became hilarious. I don't normally laugh at puppet violence, sex, or vomiting, but here they were a scream. OK, the jabs at self-righteously political hollywood celebrities fall a bit wide of an incredibly large mark, but much else is superbly spot-on, particularly the melodramatic action film logic taken to illogical conclusions.

The film is absurd and absurdly over the top. And it has the courage to say why the film "Pearl Harbor" sucked, in song. I wouldn't want to ruin it by describing too much, I would say, see it in an infantile and/or intoxicated frame of mind with as many people as possible. It's not just a good idea, it's the LAW.



Post a Comment

<< Home