Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Michael Clayton

First off, I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. It unfolded really nicely, it was engrossing and everyone in it was excellent.

So why's it on the old' GRENADE!!, I hear you ask?

Because of the fucking DVD sleeve, that's why. According to the sleeve – 20th Century Fox be damned for being so fucking lazy – it's a "heart-pounding, action-packed thriller that cuts a vicious path to the darkest heart of New York City."

If you've seen the movie, you will know that is one of the worst descriptions you could possibly apply to this movie. I would even be cautious describing it as a thriller; it's more of a drama, in my opinion. Heart pounding? Well, I didn't die because my heart stopped during the movie, so I guess that's partly correct. Heart beating would have been better. And action packed... Just plain 'no'. When I pointed this out to my lovely wife, she said "They must have used the bit where the car explodes about eight times during the trailer then".

It's just plain not.

So 20th Century Fox, and specifically whoever passed that copy for this DVD sleeve – stop being so fucking lazy, you bunch of tools.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Death Proof

Ah, Quentin, Quentin. Quenty. Where did it all go wrong?

I think I have the answer.

See, Tarantino has done some good stuff. Reservoir Dogs had great dialogue, even if the story was ripped off wholesale from City On Fire. Pulp Fiction was just 20 minutes away from being possibly the greatest movie of modern times; flabby editing (which should have served as a warning) stops it just short of being perfect.

Jackie Brown was a huge surprise; smart, simple, beautifully acted and low-key. Kill Bill was creative, absurdly so, and largely quite good fun.

I'll always think of From Dusk Till Dawn as being partly a Tarantino movie, largely because of the writing credit, and FDTD has exactly the same problem as Death Proof: indulgence. FDTD sets up perfectly with the robbery of the store, the entrance of the policeman... We understand the brothers, their roles, what they do, one is unhinged etc. So why spend another 50 minutes rehashing the same shite? We know they're bad. The references to sexual violence on their journey do nothing to expand the characters, and it's not even well written. It's just there for the sake of it, and so Tarantino can 'act' in the movie.

Something he is truly fucking crap at, btw.

Same problem in Death Proof; what could take 15 minutes in the hands of a decent editor and a non-indulgent dirtector takes 45 minutes. It's dull. Really, really dull. Meaningless conversations that go nowhere might be just like real life, but this isn't real life. It's a fucking movie. If I want real life dull conversations that go nowhere, I'll go to the fucking pub myself, thanks.

The movie is a supposed homage to 'Grindhouse'. I've spent my life watching movies, reading about them, and even spent a couple of years as editor of one of the biggest DVD magazines in Europe. I do know movies, honestly. But the term 'grindhouse' is a nonsense one. It means nothing, and until this movie and Planet Terror came out, I reckon no fucker on the planet outside Chez Tarantino was using the expression (for the record, the term is used to describe the kind of cinemas these movies played in, apparently, rather than the film. Still sounds like a load of old bollocks to me).

The usual term for that type of movie is exploitation; sometimes people refer to them as 'B-movies' (not exactly accurately), but there are other names. But Grindhouse? Right out of Tarantino's arse, in my opinion. Maybe it's an American thing, but... I have my doubts. If someone out there wants to prove me wrong, fine. Maybe it's a cultural thing.

Aaaaaaanyway, it's not a good homage. It's cutesy, it's clever, but it's not accurate. The kind of movies we're talking about usually had a lot of filler in. And the filler most certainly was not meaningless, shite-boring conversations. Q, if you want to emulate the genre you claim to love so much, where were the pointless shower scenes that take up to seven minutes, where was the pointless softcore lesbianism? That's the filler these movies used, hacked in by producers to bump the running time up, or simply to titillate the drive-in crowd.

I'm just saying.

Okay, the movie concerns Stuntman Mike, some bloke who was a stuntman. He's played by Kurt Russell. He targets some women, and plans to do... something with his car. Something bad, we reckon.

Well, he does it, then his attentions switch to some other women, and he plans to do it again. Only this time, he's picked on the wrong group of women. Oh yes.

It's simple, it gleefully wastes your time with a lot of pointless crap, and honestly, the whole thing could have been perfectly served up in a one-hour movie. Now, a one-hour movie on a double bill actually makes a lot of sense – some 'B's used to be 65, 70 minutes, so it's not unusual. But no, he had to put himself in it, he had to pad it out with some real shite, and he had to make it oh-so-distinctly a Tarantino movie.

Sadly, much as I was looking forward to it, this movie sucked. Best things about it were A) the Planet Terror trailer at the start and B) the fact that, to rid our minds of the suckiness of this, we watched the brilliant This Is England later that night, and it really was superb.

Thursday, 15 May 2008


Everyone I've mentioned this movie to says "Is that the one with Robert De Niro in?"

No, fuckbat – that's Taxi Driver.

Anyway, I put this on my LoveFilm list because I wanted my wife to enjoy it. Why? Because I thought I was adding the French original, not the flaccid US remake. Boy did I fuck up.

It's not that there's a lot wrong with it, it's more that even though it's a remake, it feels like it's been made completely by the numbers. It's no fun. It's got no heart. And while the original may not be the greatest movie ever, as a piece of escapism it's hard to beat; that and the fact that there's no CG special effects in it, too. All the driving stunts are real, unlike the US version.

Anyway, what's it all about? There's a police officer (Jimmy Fallon – never heard of him, and hopefully I won't be seeing him in anything again soon), and he's a shit driver. His driving gets him demoted, despite being the only witness to a robbery by some supposedly foxy chicks.

I say supposedly because personally, I've never found women built like Twiglets particularly attractive. But then load bearing is something I have to consider in potential partners.

I digress.

Anyway, these 'hotties' are robbing banks and getting away. Then Jimmy Fallon sees them, and he's in a taxi because he's lost his license, and Queen Latifah is the cab driver. She's the fastest cab driver in New York, too. Which if it's anything like driving in London, means she hits 10mph if she's lucky.

The two of them work together – begrudgingly on Latifah's side – and rumble the robbers, saving the day and boring the tits off audiences everywhere.

Don't rent it, watch the French one instead. At least that movie's fun.

In a side note, I remember seeing the publicity shots for a Queen Latifah film, something she did with Steve Martin – Bringing Down The House, that was it. And one picture of her showed a stunning set of legs. I can say now, with some authority, that I don't think they were hers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


I think that I have officially become my father.

There was a time that I could watch a crappy piece o' popcorn like Transformers, and I would be perfectly content. Not so anymore. I tried watching it 3 times over the weekend, but I kept falling asleep after 20 minutes or so. Then I was finally able to make it all the way through to the ending and I couldn't tell the good robots from the bad robots. I was so confused. Like my Dad.

Is there really anyone out there who was nostalgic for the Transformers? I mean is there some kind of not-so secret enclave of uber-geeks who truly missed their daily dose of Optimus Prime and Megatron from when they were 10? I don't get it.

I hope they were happy with it. I hope they were happy with a robot that looked and acted a bit like Number 5 from Short Circuit messing with Air Force One. Maybe somewhere George Lucas was pissed off because the robots in this movie were funnier than the robots in his movie. They were supposed to be funny, right?

Oh, when the one robot simulated peeing on John Turturro....that was a gas! Cripes!

Michael Bay rolled out every trick in his dirty little bag for this movie. Every trick he already used in Armageddon and many others, I mean. I was most disgusted by the Mickey Mouse score that practically used rimshots for every one of Shia LaBeefsteak's jokes. I died a little bit inside with each sad occurrence.

Maybe I've just been in a bad mood, but this movie really sucked. Everything about it. And I had heard a whole bunch of decent reviews from some people whose opinion I usually trust. Now I think they may have been dropped on their heads a few times when they were infants. It's the only explanation I have for actually liking this movie.

That and the nostalgia for 80's Japanese anime robots wailing on each other.

Now if they had done a live-action version of Star Blazers....well, that would be a different story.

Through all the fire and the smoke
We will never give up hope
If we can win the Earth will survive
We'll keep peace alive
With our Star Blazers

Saturday, 10 May 2008

4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I know this one seems kinda obvious for inclusion on the ole' grenade. The first film in the series was generally panned by the critics and the public, yet it made a bundle in the theaters. So they made a sequel and the term "franchise" has been bandied about. It was also panned by critics and the public while making another great big bundle o' cash at the box office. Sometimes moviegoers just want some expensive popcorn and soda, I guess. The Junior Mints are good too.

I sat through this one, believe it or not, two different times. The first time I watched it I missed the first 20 minutes or so. I'm familiar with the story of the Surfer from the comic-books so I was able to jump right into the action. And I'm not retarded. I started watching it again tonight to catch the parts I missed and Gia was enduring it with me. Turned out that she was enjoying it so I watched the rest of it with her.

Something funny happened.

I didn't hate it as much as the first time I watched it a few days ago. I think it was because Gia is a comic-book novice and she kept on asking all kinds of really cute questions. "So, he's made entirely of rock? Geesh!" Stuff like that. And she fell in love with The Thing. She likes the big guys, if ya know what I mean. ::wink::

I think what really made change my tune on the film is looking at it through her eyes. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to movies in general. I expect a lot. It's even worse for movies made from comic-books. I expect the world. But Gia took the film at face value for what it was. Brain candy, and a welcome diversion in some fairly difficult times frankly.

So while I wouldn't call this film "high art" or quality any works on one level that might be appealing to somebody out there. It doesn't make you think very hard.

Sometimes that's as glowing a review as you want for a film.