The Brothers Bloom

by Jonas Kyratzes

I’ll keep this review very short, because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you. I’ll just say that it is delightful, beautiful, and features one of the most exceptional musical scores I’ve ever heard.

It’s hard to understand why the critics accused it of being “too smug and pleased with itself” (Roger Ebert). It is anything but smug; it’s full of manic energy, joy, and enthusiasm. It is the polar opposite of mannered, self-consciously “quirky” bullshit like Rushmore. You won’t find a film more full of life, more in love with its story and characters. And, more remarkably, you won’t find a movie about con men that is more honest or more full of heart.

See this movie, and trust that the ride it will take you on leads to a place of truth.

The Losers

by Verena Kyratzes

The CIA isn’t our friend. We have known this for a while, and in recent years Hollywood seems to have come to the same conclusion. The A-Team, RED and The Losers all basically deal with this topic. Bravo Hollywood, took you long enough.

We saw RED a while ago and thought that it was a good movie. Great, even. The A-Team wasn’t as good, but it was still a fun movie.

And then there’s The Losers. The thing about The Losers is that I kind of managed not to notice it at all. Didn’t see the trailer, didn’t read any reviews, didn’t see it mentioned on the IMDb. Which is remarkable, really, if you take into account that I think Chris Evans is one of the most promising and talented actors of his generation. If that’s just bad luck or a spectacular failure on the side of the movie’s PR department is for you to decide.

The bottom line is that I had no expectations. It could have been anything, from Shakespeare (a good adaptation, not something like O or Love’s Labours Lost) to the biggest trash since Super Troopers. Well… it turned out to be more on the Shakespeare side of things.

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Kick-Ass

by Jonas Kyratzes

When I first heard all the hubbub about Kick-Ass, I thought the typical conservatism (conscious or not) of a lot of people was rearing its ugly head. I do not, after all, see anything inherently wrong with a child swearing, or – in the context of fiction – a child killing people. The latter, of course, is only acceptable under certain dramatic or comedic conditions. But surely, Kick-Ass was a parody of vigilante justice, a deconstruction of the superhero myth, an adolescent and less literate version of Watchmen?

No such luck.

Kick-Ass is a very clear embodiment of everything that’s wrong with so-called Geek Culture: the fetishization of women, the uncritical attitude towards superficial cultural artefacts, the thoughtless individualism, the hollow pursuit of “awesome” things… on and on, this movie is as trite and foolish as it is disturbing. Oh, I’m sure the filmmakers will say that much of the movie is meant to be ironic, meant to be disturbing… but we’re also supposed to think that it’s cool. A girl with a coloured wig? Cool! Action scenes ripped from better movies starring insipid characters we can supposedly project onto? Cool! Jetpacks? Cool!

But it’s not cool. It’s not awesome. It’s derivative, unimaginative bullshit that wants to have its cake and eat it too. Even the composer manages to rip himself off, reusing music from considerably better movies he’s scored in a way that only highlights the vapid nature of this one.

There are truly great comics out there (or graphic novels, if you prefer), and there are some truly great superhero stories, not all of which are critical of the superhero concept (or need to be). But Kick-Ass is a celebration of the most childish and unpleasant elements of that world, offering no insights and even less entertainment. It is truly a terrible movie, quite possibly the worst I’ve seen all year.

Trailerwatch: Source Code, The Beaver, Cowboys and Aliens

Just some brief thoughts while be prepare further articles. (Yes, it’s been slow again, but we’re doing important/cool stuff, like releasing games and getting published.)

Trailers. Like politicians, they don’t often tell us the truth about what they really represent. Sometimes they’re fascinating. Sometimes they’re boring. Sometimes they promise you change and deliver more of the same. Sometimes they say they’re for transparency and freedom of information and then they attack those values as soon as they’re in danger of being embarrassed or exposed as war criminals. OK, trailers don’t really do that. We’re getting off topic. So here’s three trailers we’ve recently watched and what they made us think.

The trailer for Source Code looks very promising. Moon, the director’s first film, was excellent, and this looks like a very ambitious, serious project. Great actors, an interesting premise, a talented director… yep, we’re hoping this will be a really good movie.

Cowboys and Aliens, on the other hand, is just confusing. The title sounds comedic, the trailer looks serious (apart from a very visible wire effect)… but it’s one of those trailers that really don’t tell you much about the movie. Jon Favreau is certainly not without talent, and the cast includes some actors we really adore (Harrison Ford!), but the trailer doesn’t really do much for us.

And then there’s The Beaver, whose trailer is the opposite of Cowboys and Aliens, telling us entirely too much about the movie. In fact, it looks like it’s a summary rather than a trailer. (Some of those scenes look like they’re from the end of the film!)  But it’s not without promise, despite seemingly being another tiresome rich-people-are-so-unhappy movie. Controversies aside, Mel Gibson is a fine actor, and Jodie Foster is the kind of director who believes in her projects, so The Beaver might turn out to be better than all the tiresome jokes the reviews will inevitably be filled with.

(The horror that is Gulliver’s Travels shall not be mentioned.)

Agora

by Bachiga Obsumnida

In the lead-up to its release, Alejandro Amenábar’s Agora received a large-scale publicity campaign, free of charge, courtesy of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups. The historical drama, centred around the life and lynching of Hypatia, a pagan astronomer who lived in Alexandria in the 4th Century CE, and the destruction of the Great Library by a group of rampaging Christian monks, was billed as “a biased view of the relationship between science and the Church,” that would make the “public in general” think “Christians are a bunch of SOBs.” (source)

Disappointingly for the godless haters lured into the audience by such wild overselling, the film proved to be nothing of the sort.

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A Lady in the Water (So That Critics May Live)

by Ivaylo Shmilev

Jonas and Verena, being very good friends of mine and also often being forced to read/listen to my crazy ramblings, invited me to re-post some thoughts I had written more than 19 months ago on Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. It was an invitation I could not resist, and I am very grateful for it. Thanks, guys! So here, in slightly edited and updated form, is what went through my mind when I saw that film again three years or so after it initially came out; I hope you will enjoy it. — Evil Ivo over & out

Last night, I saw Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water for the first time since its original release in 2006. I encountered a multitude of themes that I had probably missed back then. To begin with a nice long list, some of those included: Mr. Heep’s struggle to overcome his tremendous feeling of guilt for the death of his family, and his ultimate success; the understanding that Mrs. Choi, coming from an undisclosed East Asian country, is not “inscrutable” and “impenetrable,” as most current films have it about East Asian people, but is instrumental in acquainting the other characters with the real story about Story; the visions of a little boy (Joey Dury) who can guide adult people to the truth, even when reading supernatural messages off cereal boxes; a man (Mr. Leeds) who can keep his bizarre, even slightly offensive silence most of the time, but speaks with weight and power when the right moment arrives; and a critic who has to die – so that critics may live.

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Aaron Sorkin Is A Dick

Recently followed this link from the IMDb, which includes some truly precious quotes:

I have considerably more power as an individual than I do as a member of that group, and I am forced to be a member of that union in order to work. Moreover, because the vast majority of the members of that union are not employed, frankly, the Writers Guild works best as an organization not to protect writers from management but to protect people who want to be writers from people who already are. I have never had any trouble with a studio, with a network, with a producer, with a director, with a star; I have only ever had trouble with the Writers Guild.

Translation: “I am the biggest writer who ever was! And because I am so successful, and obviously a perfect writer, everyone who is not successful must be a failure and a bad writer. The studios love me for writing superficial ‘zingy’ scripts with little reference to the complexities of the real world, so I think it’s terrible if I have to make even the tiniest of sacrifices for other people who may not be as rich as I.

I’m also one of the 9 percent of the Writers Guild who did not vote to support the strike. By the way, I now will not get a WGA nomination, we can rule that out. [Laughs.] It’s not a coincidence that it’s roughly that 9 percent of people who are employed.

Translation: “Everyone who disagrees with me on this is an unemployed hobo hack.”

My feeling is if you want to get the extra three cents on the streaming video — frankly, I never even understood the issue behind the strike because I don’t know anything about technology — if you want to get the extra three cents, write better. Your agent will get it for you. Be good, be in demand [and] your agent will get it! Let the markets work!

Translation: “I make so much money that I don’t give a shit about anyone else. Why don’t they eat cake? And that technology stuff, I don’t know what it’s good for, but I’m sure it will not play any part in writer’s lives in the future. And even if it did, the multibillion-dollar corporations that run the business aren’t really out for profit… they just want to help you! They believe in fair play and niceness, because that way everyone gets what they want! No, we don’t need any safeguards against unethical behaviour, because we know that big industry never behaves unethically.”

Well-said, you overpaid sellout prick.