It’s no wonder that Warner Brothers canned the remaining press screenings of Point Break and moved the embargo break date to Christmas Day. They want to bury the reviews for this remake-gone-amok in a festive avalanche of holiday cheer. So long as word doesn’t get out that Ericson Core‘s completely unwarranted remake of Kathryn Bigelow‘s action-packed breakout hit is indeed a completely unwarranted remake, they might still stand a chance of picking some unsuspecting pockets. Read More
I’m trying to keep up the weekly part of this Weekly Review segment and since this week bought profoundly cold weather to the area, I found myself watching quite a few flicks at home. I decided to catch up on some of Richard Linklater‘s earlier stuff and having just read the Phillip K Dick story this summer, I popped on A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life but couldn’t finish the later in one sitting. Aside from that, I caught up on a handful of things, two of which starred Keanu Reeves, that I’d heard buzz about for some time but had never taken the time to see. Some were great, some not so much.
A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)
An entirely faithful and ambitious adaptation of one of Phillip K Dicks stranger and yet more emotional works. Robert Downey Jr is perfect as Barris, Woody Harrelson makes a great Luckman, Winona Ryder ideally fits the enigma of Donna and even Keanu Reeves is a component choice for our crumbling hero, Bob Arctor. Experimental to a fault, this Richard Linklater film is a piece of art to behold, with each hand drawn frame as texturally inspired and aesthetically vibrant as the last. Without dumbing down the material, it’s no surprise A Scanner Darkly didn’t find much of an audience in its theatrical run or otherwise but any fan of Dick’s memorable brand of sci-fi pulp is sure to love this.
TOUCHY FEELY (2013)
Seattle native Lynn Shelton‘s dramedy tracks a pair of siblings as they change places in their respective worlds like its Freaky Friday. One’s a massage therapist, the other a dentist and in some strange, unmentioned twist of the cosmos, one loses their spirituality while the other gains it anew. Things turn weepy in a pitiless way and Rosemarie DeWitt’s character is a noxious tonic who’s hard to relate to and annoying to watch. None of this new age spirituality really comes together and the bumbling awkwardness that is the emotional framework never does enough to draw in the audience. It’s a fine work in the context of light independent cinema but hardly one worthy of note.
TROLL HUNTER (2010)
Acid dry Norwegian wit, wry social commentary and shockingly impressive visual effects for a paltry budget, Troll Hunter is that rare mockumentary with purpose. As a trio of hunters follow a veteran troll hunter, they learn that trolls are indeed real, a fact actively covered up by the Norwegian government. The best thing about the film is how well conceived everything is and how painstaking thought through each detail is. Between the inventive machinery, gadgets and gizmos and the clever twists of biology that, on the surface, satisfy the existence of such malevolent fairy tale beasts, director Andre Ovredal weaves a compelling narrative that is far better than the silly name might suggest.
POINT BREAK (1991)
Exciting and trend-setting action story partially ruined by Keanu Reeves‘ offensively bad acting, Point Break is popcorn-crunching 90’s nonsense. It’s miles from self-serious but Reeves can barely deliver a line without it feeling like he’s reading lines from his wrist, barely comprehending what’s passing through his lips. Co-star Patrick Swayze is in top form though and his shaggy beach thief has enough layers to keep us intrigued. An interesting start for Kathryn Bigelow who has since gone on to direct some very noteworthy pictures including Academy Award winner The Hurt Locker and 2012’s acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty.
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
Lengthy and dense enough to warrant a viewing in two sitting, TAOJJBTCRF is an impeccably photographed, wonderfully acted Western character study. Brad Pitt plays iconic train robber Jesse James with his many folds of complexity and his deeply introspective persona that makes him such a mystery of a character. Not so much a tracking of what made James the criminal celebrity he was as it is about what becomes of his attempts to retire, Andrew Dominick‘s long-winded film gets it right with many aspects. One of which is Casey Affleck‘s Robert Ford. I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve been judgmental of the younger Affleck, calling his performance in last year’s Out of the Furnace the first time that I’ve ever seen him as a seriously talented actor. Here though, there’s no arguing that Affleck is phenomenal. Couple that fact with the picturesque cinematography and absolutely stunning use of light and you have many reasons to watch TAOJJBTCRF, even if the task can be a touch laborious.