Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Night Movie Reviews

As always on the first Friday of the month, it's time for our bite-sized Friday Night Movie Reviews. We've got four reviews for you this month, and to say they are an eclectic mix would be an understatement. There's a Brit classic, a Ferrell funny, a monkey romp, and a monkey turd (oops, spoilers). Join us below the cut to see what we've been watching this month.



Withnail and I (1987) by Courtney

Yes, I’m reviewing another Paul McGann movie, shut up, I like him. Like most cult films, the summary doesn’t do it justice at all; two unemployed actors Withnail (Richard E Grant) and Marwood (Paul McGann) decide to go on a holiday to a country cottage belonging to Withnail’s uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). If I had to compare it to another film I would say it’s kind of the British equivalent of The Big Lebowski in that it’s a surreal, dialogue-driven experience with some fantastic performances and a dark sense of humour.

It's always fun just watching Richard E Grant acting batshit insane so it's easy to overlook Marwood, his more level-headed, though very anxious friend. But really the film depends entirely upon the relationship between the two and it is fascinating to watch them play off each other.

Withnail and I is a film that gets better upon repeated viewings, which I think is due to most people not knowing what to expect when they first see it, myself included. But the more times I watch it, the more details I notice and the more I love it.

The Campaign (2012) by Jeff

I don't know why I expect anything resembling real-world accuracy from a Will Ferrell/Zach Galifinakas comedy, but while there's plenty of good reasons to dislike "The Campaign," the added bonus of the absurdity of campaign life in a movie at least trying to make a statement about politics in the United States made this flop just a little harder for me.

The plot is pretty simple, and very American. Zach Galifinakas plays a corporate-supported everyman who's drafted into a race against the incumbent Democrat played by Will Ferrell. It quickly devolves into gross-out jokes, debauchery, and the occasional attempts at shock as we rush up to election day.

As someone who enjoys Will Ferrell in things like Anchorman and Step-Brothers, that this was merely second rate is unfortunate. It has enough laughs in it to be a worthwhile late-night movie distraction, but that's effectively it. Considering the number of movies I have on my DVR that I skipped in favor of this one, I guess I'm not too proud...

King Kong (2005) by Jacinta

I'd heard such bad things about Kong on it's original release, that it wasn't until years later that I actually saw it for the first time. I had very low expectations, but ended up absolutely loving it. It's been about three years since I saw it that first time, and my memories were getting a bit hazy, so after the WETA-inspired excitement on the weekend, I decided to revisit it.

Everyone knows the King Kong story; people go to island, find massive monkey, massive monkey steals pretty girl, people steal pretty girl back, capture massive monkey and take him back to New York. Chaos ensues (as does that iconic Empire State Building scene). Peter Jackson has taken a classic and given it the epic feel he gave us with Lord of the Rings (in fact, for the most part, I'd almost say the visuals hold up better than they do in Lord of the Rings). He takes us to the island that time forgot, and gives us what has to be one of my favorite movie scenes of all time; a gigantic Silverback gorilla fighting three Tyrannosaurus Rex-esque dinosaurs. He also gives us back Andy Serkis, who is in the dual role of Kong and the chain-smoking ship cook Lumpy. Lumpy has the honour of suffering the best death in the movie, hands down. You're half covering your eyes, maybe gagging a tiny bit, all while thinking 'Oh my god, that's amazing'. Or maybe I'm just a sicko.

If you've been avoiding King Kong because of all the bad stuff you heard about it, then just trust in Peter Jackson and find yourself a copy. I can't argue that it ISN'T a little bloated (I watched the extended edition and could barely remember my name by the time it finished a million hours later), but at no time did I find myself thinking 'C'mon, next scene'. The first half of the movie on Skull Island is so action-packed, that any slower scenes feel like a welcome respite. It is a visually stunning movie with an all-star cast and heaps of action, and is absolutely worth a look.

Movie 43 (2013) by Luke

Bloated with a big name cast and boasting a 4% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, misfire Movie 43 is limp collection of half-formed comedy sketches. Despite being aggressively low brow, some of the premises are actually vaguely appealing, but the multiple writers and directors continually fail to develop any of them. No one really seems to know where to take the bulk of these ideas, so after that initial attempt at shock, most of the sequences peter out or exit whimpering. Hugh Jackman has a pair of testicles hanging from his chin and.... his date is uncomfortable. The end. Chloe Moretz gets her first period at her boyfriend’s house and... his family is comfortable. The end. Anna Faris wants Chris Pratt to shit on her and he has some laxatives and shits everywhere. The end. If this was a free sketch comedy show on TV you wouldn’t bother watching the next episode. To bother collecting all of this into a feature film AND employ so many high profile actors is simply bewildering.

That said, as the film flits from one extreme to the other it begins to develop a train wreck appeal. I became strangely entertained at watching a group of celebrities humiliate themselves. Why are they here? How did all this happen? The only true entertainment derives from those performers who are somehow able to rise above the material. I think that Halle Berry, for example, acquits herself with aplomb, despite being faced with the task of inserting chilli in her vagina. And the beautiful, graceful Naomi Watts made me feel funny.

In the right frame of mind, and with nothing better to do, you just might get a guilty buzz out of it. But rest assured, it earns that 4%. Wretched.


1 comment:

  1. Dan Zukovic's "THE LAST BIG THING", called the "best unknown American film of the 1990's in the film book "Defining Moments in Movies" (Editor: Chris Fujiwara), was recently released on DVD and Netflix by Vanguard Cinema (http://www.vanguardcinema.com/thelastbigthing/thelastbigthing.htm), and is currently debuting on Cable Video On Demand, including Fandor. Featuring an important early role by 2011 Best Supporting Actor Oscar Nominee Mark Ruffalo ("The Avengers", "Shutter Island", "The Kids Are Alright"), "THE LAST BIG THING" had a US theatrical release in 1998, and gained a cult following over several years of screenings on the Showtime Networks.

    TRAILER: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi856622873/

    "A distinctly brilliant and original work." Kevin Thomas - Los Angeles Times
    "A satire whose sharpest moments echo the tone of a Nathaniel West novel...Nasty Fun!"
    Stephen Holden - New York Times
    "One of the cleverest recent satires on contemporary Los Angeles...a very funny sleeper!"
    Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
    "One of the few truly original low budget comedies of recent years." John Hartl - Seattle Times
    "'The Last Big Thing' is freakin' hilarious! The most important and overlooked indie film
    of the 1990's!" Chris Gore - Film Threat




















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