Archive for November, 2010

Showgirls

Posted in Drama with tags on November 28, 2010 by Mark Hobin

It’s difficult to describe the supreme level of ridiculousness that Showgirls attains as the perfect example of a movie that’s so bad, it’s good.  A film so intent in presenting a behind the scenes exposé of a topless Las Vegas spectacle, it skips being titillating to becoming downright ridiculous in its trashy exuberance.  Actress Elizabeth Berkley‘s (apparently) serious performance as Nomi Malone is a towering achievement of bad acting.  A character with an emotionally unpredictable personality, consumed in ambition to become a showgirl in Sin City.  She amusingly gets offended when her superiors make inference she is merely a prostitute, despite consistently behaving in a manner far from pure.  Nomi’s frequent disrobing at the drop of a hat, involves nudity almost assaultive in nature, whether it be for work or her personal life.  The drama revolves around the dance extravaganza “Goddess”, a production with choreography bursting with pelvic thrusts and gymnastic poses.  Gina Gershon is unforgettable as Cristal Connors, the diva and star of the production.  As the new dancer in her show, Nomi’s views Cristal with a mixture of jealously and admiration, a variation on All About Eve.  But her depravity doesn‘t stop there.  Later, Nomi and the entertainment director of the hotel share a moment of intimacy in a swimming pool that ranks among the most laughable sex scenes in cinematic history.  Utterly reviled upon its release, and still pretty hated today, Showgirls has since entered the pantheon of cult movies now appreciated for the caricature it unwittingly achieves.  Admittedly this picture is a train wreck, yet it manages to entertain.  The quintessential guilty pleasure that is one of the most hilarious comedies ever made.

Burlesque

Posted in Drama, Musical, Romance with tags on November 24, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Rags to riches story about an Iowa waitress with a big voice and even bigger dreams of becoming a performer in a Los Angeles musical revue.  What should have been a slam dunk in amusing campy excess (it’s a musical starring Cher for crying out loud)  is actually a very clichéd run-of-the-mill feature.  The script takes itself much too seriously.  Owes a serious debt to Cabaret and Chicago for inspiration, but the action never rises above an enthusiastic imitation, containing all the depth of a long form music video.   The singing is spectacular – Christina Aguilera and Cher perform beautifully and they’re matched by some skillful dancers.  But where are the catfights?  The hair pulling?  The push down the stairs?  Or the glass of wine thrown in someone’s face?  Case in point:  There’s just one act of sabotage and it‘s the best scene in the entire film.  The cast is game and I’m sure if presented with a more lively script, this film could have been great.  Christina’s vocals are exceptional.  She‘s an engaging presence in her first film, but her singing can only carry this routine movie so far.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Posted in Action, Adventure, Fantasy with tags on November 22, 2010 by Mark Hobin

In the 7th part of the series, Harry, Ron and Hermione begin a quest to discover and destroy the Horcruxes, evil Lord Voldemort’s secret to immortality.  The action is interesting enough, but the momentum kind of comes to a dreary stop about halfway through when they have to set up camp in the woods while Ron recuperates from an injury.  The most enchanting segment occurs when Hermione reads “The Tale of the Three Brothers” and we learn the Deathly Hallows are actually 3 magical objects.  The story is hauntingly animated, concise and easy to understand, something this 146 minute movie lacks.  As with the other films, you must be extremely familiar with the Harry Potter saga to comprehend the plot.  This chapter does not stand on its own, but if you’re a knowledgeable fan, you should enjoy this diverting placeholder until the finale.

127 Hours

Posted in Adventure, Biography, Drama with tags on November 19, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Harrowing drama concerning a devil-may-care, mountain climber who tries to save himself after a boulder crashes down on his arm.  The true account of what happens to Aron Ralston in an isolated Utah canyon is an inspirational triumph of the human spirit.  Director Danny Boyle fleshes out the chronicle with flashbacks and dream sequences that display Aron’s mental process while he is trapped.  The exploration of his mind lays the foundation for his drive to stay alive.  There’s jump cuts, split screens, rock music and all of it is blended together in kind of a MTV razzle-dazzle video depicting a tragedy.  The story is rather conceptual.  Yes, it is consistently fascinating, but it also fails to motivate as greatly as a plot with a stronger narrative.  The film has pretty much gotten universal acclaim and while it is good, I found it hard to get passionate about “an action movie in which the hero doesn’t move”.  I was impressed by 127 Hours, but only mildly entertained.

Unstoppable

Posted in Action, Drama, Thriller with tags on November 12, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Entertaining action thriller about two men who attempt to stop an unmanned, runaway train before it crashes and explodes from its toxic cargo.  This is a fun, energetic picture that flies by at a breezy 98 minutes. It’s nice to see  Tony Scott return to form, who hasn’t directed a film this good since Enemy of the State, over a decade ago.  His loud, visually chaotic style actually benefits the material here.  If there is a problem, it’s that the story is populated with utterly conventional characters.  Denzel Washington is Frank Barnes, the wizened railroad engineer, a 28 year veteran employee who’s always right.  Actor Chris Pine plays the young, rookie train conductor.  Although Frank resents his inexperience,  they must work together to save the day.  We even get the unethical railroad executive, predictably more concerned with the negative effects on stock prices than human lives.  In spite of this, the plot still holds your attention.  It’s that archetypal summer flick, not monumental, but a satisfying waste of time.  Fun Fact: Director Tony Scott first worked with Denzel Washington in 1995′s Crimson Tide and this marks their 5th collaboration together.

Everybody’s Fine

Posted in Drama with tags on November 6, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Minor family drama about father Frank Goode who sets out to visit each one of his adult children after they separately cancel their plans to have dinner at his house.  There’s some nuanced acting here, particularly from a uncharacteristically calm Robert De Niro, who is engaging.  Unfortunately the whole affair is just so thoroughly underwhelming.  Slight doesn’t even begin to describe the plot.  It’s surprising the story was able to attract such a high caliber cast.  A mildly charming diversion, but certainly nothing to write home about.  (I could barely summon up the energy to write this review)  Remake  of a 1990 Italian drama starring Marcello Mastroianni.

Fair Game

Posted in Action, Biography, Drama, Thriller with tags on November 5, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPolitical thriller about the investigation for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq following the 9/11 attacks. Naomi Watts is sharply charismatic as undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. As her husband, American diplomat Joseph Wilson, Sean Penn almost appears to be playing himself, a self righteous crusader, that will fight for what he believes is right, regardless of the consequences. Plame’s Fair Game and Wilson’s The Politics of Truth are effectively condensed into a single coherent account of Washington’s public deception in justifying the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Film presents the events that followed 9/11 with a liberal condemnation of the actions of the Bush administration and fashions them into a story that is just as much about scandals and cover-ups as about the effects stress can have on a marriage. Not quite the tour de force of 70s political thrillers like All the President‘s Men, but skillful and entertaining nonetheless.

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