Archive for February, 2010

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Notes From the Back Row- Black Dynamite rules!

February 5, 2010

Notes from the Back Row- Feb 1

It's the Nunchucks that elevate this into "Fuck Yeah!" territory.

At least we have the Olympics to distract us because February is usually a dud month for new movies. For some reason studios like to empty their crap buckets and hose out their bedpans the month before the Oscars so this is a pretty underwhelming week on the silver screen.

From Paris With Love opens Friday. It’s an action-spy movie about a Paris-based wanna-be secret agent played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers who gets teamed up with a  loose-cannon nutjob super agent played by John Travolta with a  bald head and a nut-rug goatee that is supposed to make him look tough but fails miserably.

Directed by Pierre Morel scored a hit last year with Taken but From Paris lacks that film’s emotion. There is no kidnapped daughter to guide the action and it never feels like there is very much at stake. Rather we get a lot of John Woo-ish shoot-em-ups and Travolta jabbering away from scene to scene. The story jumps inexplicably from an Asian-drug gang problem to a Pakistani terrorist plot but at just 90 minutes long From Paris with Love is quick enough and has plenty of well cut action to appease the easily amused. Too bad John Travolta is such a knob and the idea of him being badass, even with a Pulp Fiction reference thrown in, is laughable at best.

On the other end of the thematic spectrum, but no more worth watching, is Dear John the next round of sentimental garbage to come out of the mushy mind of novelist Nicholas Sparks, the guy who wrote The Notebook. This one stars Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, both gifted actors but stunted here with outdated dialogue and heavy-handed, emotionally spoon-fed direction from Lasse Halstrom, (Chocolat).

Tatum is a soldier, Seyfried an idealistic college girl. They fall in love, he goes to war, and the Sparks formula kicks in- the reading of letters, the other lover, the mental disease, the teary ending and gauzy cinematography. Hear that? That’s the sound of me puking. Maybe if you’re deep in the trenches battling menopause this kind of thing will work for you but the rest of us can skip it.

Rumour has it that the Village 8 will open The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus this week, which contains Heath Ledgers final performance, or part of it at least (Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in after Ledger’s tragic death and finished the part.)

That director Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing, Time Bandits, Tideland) was able to even complete the picture is astounding but he pulls it off with (for him) restraint and poise. The story is based around Dr Parnassus, who made a deal with the devil for immortality if he hands over his daughter on her 16th birthday, and Tony, a man rescued from death who might be able to get the old man out of that deal. Based in old London, the flick is full of Wonderland-like otherworlds and characters and is, thankfully, a lot better than Tideland.

The DVD of the week is a doozy. Black Dynamite is neither homage nor parody, but rather looks, sounds and feels like a genuine 70’s Blaxsploitation flick, complete with  kung-fu, cheap sets, black lovin’, pimpin’ suits, and an evil plot hatched up by “the Man” to keep a Brotha down. The characters might be one-dimensional stereotypes and it runs a bit long but watched with a group of friends, buds, and some 40’s Black Dynamite is a damn good time and I pity any jive-ass sucker who can’t get down with it and enjoy himself, dig?

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Notes from the back row- Olympic Torch

February 2, 2010

torch heil

Notes from the back row- jan 26/2010

Hitler was a douche, and I hear from a good source that in Hell he gets a pineapple shoved up his ass every hour on the hour– leafy end first. Old Adolf’s fiery death at the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds may not have been historically accurate but it certainly was one of 2009’s shining cinematic moments. Good riddance to that guy.

Except a little bit of Hitler will be creeping into town next week with the arrival of the much-anticipated joint-shaped torch that’s been working it’s way across our great country. See, the Olympic torch relay, as we know it, was started in 1936 for the Summer Games in Berlin, Germany aka “the Nazi Games,”.

Of course, it wasn’t Hitler’s idea. Rather Carl Diem, his Nazi head of sports, who first proposed a bunch of Aryan runners relay the Olympic flame from Greece to Berlin–all part of the overall plan to show off German organization and pride as well as a chance to infer that the Aryans were somehow linked to, or descendants of, the much-respected ancient Greeks. The torch run has happened at every Olympics since, proof that if you put the right shine on it most people don’t mind a little propaganda now and then.

But what does any of this have to do with movies? Well, for one, I never got that email with the Village 8 listings this week so who knows what is playing locally. And for two, I just suffered through Olympia, a tediously long film about the ’36 Olympics made by Hitler’s favourite filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will) which contains footage of that first ever torch relay. It also contains a crap-load of one-arm Nazi saluting but was actually, apparently, commissioned by the IOC not the Germans and is considered by many critics to be one of the best sports films ever made (better than The Mighty Ducks even!)

Olympia does have some pretty awesome footage of Olympic athletes competing in jogging pants and lots of slow motion sequences of competitors from every nation doing most events. If you’re broke, not working, or just bored you can find Olympia online on Google video.

Speaking of not working, Mel Gibson has a movie out this week, his first starring role in eight years. Edge of Darkness is directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royal) and written by the guy who wrote The Departed. Gibson plays a tough-guy Boston cop whose college-age daughter gets gunned down outside his house. At first believing the bullet was meant for him, Gibson embarks on a paranoid procedural drama (that’s what they call action movies with not enough action) that dips into everything from eco-terrorism to nuclear weapons to political and corporate cover-ups. Also there is a lot of puking in this movie.

Edge of Darkness is part crime mystery, part political thriller and a lot of Mel Gibson with “nothing to lose” crying over spilled milk. Not a great movie by any means– the plot is confusing and the ‘clues’ are clunky,  but its not total shite either, especially for for Gibson, who’s been in the papers for all the wrong reasons lately.

DVD of the week, sticking with Olympic movies, is Munich, Steve Speilberg’s fictionalized account of the 1972 Munich Olympics and it’s bloody terrorist situation. Eric Bana stars as the agent of revenge and he just goes through the film killing people. Awesome. It’s a good suspense flick but also an effective look at terrorism and counterterrorism, Pertinent as there are a lot of Army guys in Whistler right now. We’re a town used to cannons, just not usually the military kind.