Friday, September 13, 2013

This weekend at the movies

-Luc Besson’s “The Family” opens this weekend, and it is a non-stop bludgeoning, just endless gratuitous stupid violence and bloodshed for the sake of dumb laughs. It’s the sort of movie that shortcuts the slapstick and assumes someone overeagerly beating another person to death is funny. There’s some stuff in there about mocking gangster genre tropes, and it’s even more dated than the ten year old soundtrack of hits from LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and… M? Read my review here.

-I saw “And While We Were Here” under a different title two years ago, when it was in black and white, and that was probably the best thing the movie had going for it. Which was not an insult, as the color scheme made Kate Bosworth’s vulnerability that much more interesting, added to Iddo Goldberg’s black-suit handsomeness as her harried husband, and gave some mystery to teenager Jamie Blackley as her fresh-faced crush. The film has been colorized for its release now, and I can’t help but think something was lost in the translation, though I certainly hope not. Check my review here.

-“Blue Caprice” is an upsetting true life story of the D.C. sniper attacks in 2002 that felled a number of innocent civilians. Isaiah Washington is mesmerizing and terrifying as the shooter, and young Tequan Richmond is very good as his teenage son who assists in the murders. It’s definitely an anatomy of a broken relationship between these two (the boy is not actually his son, but he kidnaps and essentially brainwashes him), though I’m not entirely sure if it fully explains why the man’s grudges led him to embrace a violent bloodbath. Check out my review here, or my other review here.

And last week…

-“Riddick” is okay, I suppose, in a “that exists and I have no problem with it” sort of way. It’s a moderately entertaining gumbo of sci-fi clichés at the start, with Vin Diesel barking some truly dubious hammy dialogue. Once it moves into the mercenaries’ territory, our protagonist becomes Jason Vorhees, picking up victims one by one. And in the third act, finally, we remake “Pitch Black.” Rinse, repeat, enjoy.

-I laughed like an asshole during “Hell Baby,” the shoddy directorial debut of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant of “Reno 911” fame. A very loose parody of exorcism, possession and haunted house movies, it also doubles as a horror film about gentrification, with a game Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb as an oblivious couple moving into an entirely black neighborhood, into a house with serious baggage. Lennon and Garant, who also appear as shit-talking priests, are more interested in stopping the film short for brief sketches where characters eat poboys and tell completely unrelated stories for ten minutes at a time, or cops (Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer) randomly bully the lead couple for no apparent reason. It does allow for Riki Lindhome to appear in perhaps the most amazing nude scene of the year, so there’s that. My review here.

-Rutger Hauer is a former strongman living in a castle on a hill in the social realist drama “Il Futuro.” This erotic Italian film finds a young girl who looks to Hauer’s considerable past as an escape from her joyless life with her shiftless little brother. It’s an awfully gorgeous, impressionistic movie, and you can find my review here.

-Every post-apocalyptic trope can be found in the desert-set “Bounty Killer,” which reminds most of the cheap “Bunraku” from a few years ago: dystopian post-nuclear future, new methods of killing, ham-handed hard-boiled characters, everyone in some sort of stupidly-dressed gang, half-hearted embrace of grindhouse aesthetics. At least this one has the sense to be a half hour shorter than “Bunraku,” and it pivots on an amusing idea, that of corporate executives hunted down for a price by bounty hunters seeking revenge for the end of the world during the “Corporate Wars,” caused by corporations fusing with governments. Pabst Blue Ribbon is actually used as currency at one point. Read my review here.

-I don’t have much nice to say about “Touchy Feely,” which felt like I had a piece of granola stuck in my teeth. Rosemarie DeWitt is a massage therapist who suddenly can’t bring herself to touch anyone. Meanwhile, her neurotic dentist brother (Josh Pais) somehow attains a healing touch and becomes a wizard of the profession. DeWitt’s relationship with her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy) naturally suffers, while Pais’ assistant/daughter Ellen Page rankles under a busier waiting room. And knowing Pais, always playing neurotic dopes, he’s especially uncomfortable by all the added attention. So everyone’s miserable, no one can address their feelings, and everyone is boring, while the “magic touch” of the premise remains unexplained and arbitrary. I’m always wary about films with punny titles, and this is why.


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