Friday, July 25, 2008

Go, Speed Racer, Go

"Orgy, hell: The film is like a nightmare in which you're trapped in an arcade with screens on all sides and no eyelids."
David Edelstein

"Gaudier than a Hindu-temple roof, louder than the Las Vegas night, Speed Racer is a cathedral of glitz."
J. Hoberman

"So hyperfrenetic that, in the end, you wonder if the Wachowskis aren't trying to pull off an elaborate hoax – a deranged techno fantasia posing as retro-ish family fare."
Peter Ranier

"'Speed Racer' proudly denies entry into its ultra-bright world to all but gamers, fanboys and anime enthusiasts."
Kirk Honeycutt

Well then, count me in.

Speed Racer: 7/10

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Redbelt (See Poster For Ending)

Well-acted (but im-
plausible) underdog sto-
ry that doesn't

Redbelt: 6/10

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight is About George W. Bush

Using the character of Batman as a not-so-subtle filmic representation of the President of the United States, Christopher Nolan has given me a whole new appreciation of good ol' George W.

It only became clear to me at the climax of the movie, but, looking back, I should've seen it coming all along. I mean, just consider the progression of events:

A known, but untouchable, group of criminals have terrorized Gotham City, until a heroic aggressor finally steps up for the good citizens and starts aggressively hunting down the evil, in a large cloud of public praise.

Fittingly, the specific first act of violence in the film is initiated and orchestrated by an insane, unkempt radical with a propensity for making home videos. This, effectively sets off the war that's about to be waged in the film.

Said heoric aggressor, namely, Bruce Wayne (or W., B., as I like to call him), funds his war on terror by misappropriating large amounts of hard-earned corporate money to his own personal weaponry department, creating never-seen-before technology to wage war with.

When one of the foreign conspirators (who is actually only marginally connected to The Joker) manages to escape back to his home country, Geor... er, I mean, Batman launches a top secret mission in which he infiltrates said foreign territory and illegally extradites the suspect, throwing him into a local prison. He later dies, but not before immeasurable amounts of cash are burned for the purpose of killing him.

Despite this public "victory", Public Enemy #1, is still at large, so Batman results to torturing suspected criminals for wild grabs at information. This marks the start of an epic physical chess game where The Joker and Batman keep one-upping each other in an effort to gain supremacy (all right, so, this part is slightly exaggerated).

The battle escalates to the point where the public begins to urge Batman to step down, in order to stop the madness, realizing that Batman's reign only attracts terror, as much as it deters it. Public favor suddenly starts to shift towards a young, highly charismatic politician, who begs for people to believe in him.

Batman begins to consider stepping down, even going so far as joking to his ancient, right-hand man that he'll go down with him. This all changes when The Joker eludes capture yet again, prompting our hero to initiate a controversial movement that allows him to access all the public's cell phones and geographic locations. Due to his actions, his African-American confidant and chief of his defense department nearly resigns in disgust.

Finally taking a swerve into speculative fantasy, Batman captures The Joker after a confrontation in a construction site, but not before The Joker and his cohorts leave a large trail of bodies behind.

Realizing that he partially was responsible for the trail of destruction, our hero heroically accepts responsibility and even is willing to paint himself as a villain, selfessly and heroically paving the way for the aforementioned young upstart politician to take his hero's mantle, and deliver the message of hope and change to the world.

And thus ends George's Bruce Wayne's hero's journey, as he runs into the night after sacrificing his public image, being chased into the shadows by an angry blue mob.

George W. Bush, may you be chased by men and dogs.

The Dark Knight: 8/10

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chaos Theory

The Checklist

1) Solid performances. CHECK.
2) Capable direction. CHECK.
3) Appealing balance between comedy and drama. CHECK.
4) Likeable characters. CHECK.
5) Plausibility. CHECK.
6) Brisk pace. CHECK.

The Cards
1) Plans vs. Whims vs. Fate
2) Fatherhood: Nature or Nurture?
3) Gun control.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

The Outcome
A well-made "happily ever after" film lacking thematic resolutions and missing out on its potential.

Chaos Theory: 5/10

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Chaser

This thriller does it all wrong, all, all wrong.

Let us list the ways:
  • The killer is apprehended in the first act.
  • The "hero" is an ex-(corrupt)-detective who is now a pimp.
  • The damsel in distress is one of his whores.
  • The loyal sidekick is (rightfully) named "Meathead."
  • The villain gives an understated performance.
  • All the chases are on foot.
  • The biggest car crash is a fender bender.
  • There's no obligatory romance.
  • It's over two hours long.
  • The kid isn't wise beyond her years (and is, in fact, kind of stupid).
  • Shots last over 4 seconds (well, some do).

What it gets right:

  • Lots of violence.
  • The police work is a joke (albeit, sadly, intentionally).

And despite all these glaring flaws, this film still has the gall to provide the white knuckles only reserved for Saw viewings when you're pulling your hair out from its stupidity.

How dare the film defy formula?

Perhaps The Chaser's largest genre faux pas is placing the movie on its flawed protagonist's shoulders, relying on his irrational, borderline-incompetent, and darkly humorous attempts on rescuing his lost girls. Kim Yun-Seok's character is so engrossing and (unnervingly) likeable that his guilt-driven sadness and recklessness causes us more discomfort than the victims' bloody life-or-death situation. And what kind of childish thriller actually focuses on character?

The Chaser: 8/10

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Charlie Bartlett

Taking a break from his professional job as an amateur psychiatrist, we put Charlie Bartlett on the other side of the bathroom stall probe into his mind through this brief questionnaire.

He enlightens us on some of the challenges of being the most popular student in high school, as well as some insight on his personal heroes and role models.

Your favorite virtue:
Trying too hard to be universally loved for who I am.

Your chief characteristic:
Bi-polarism. Sometimes, I lack common sense and logic and display random bursts of awkward cartoonishness. Other times, I oversimplify and become entrenched in my own immature melodrama.

Your main fault:
I lack an identity and try so hard to fit in that I spread myself too thin by shamelessly showing off multiple inconsistent facets of my personality in an effort to please everyone.

Your idea of happiness:
A packed audience cheering my name.

Your idea of misery:
$4.7 million in worldwide box office gross.

If not yourself, who would you be?:
Ferris Bueller.

What you hate the most:
Posers (which explains my self-loathing).

The reform you admire the most:
None -- be yourself, don't be afraid, and trust yourself because you are worth it. Except if you smoke. Or are an alcoholic. Or are suicidal. Or are a bully. Or are an authoritarian, socialist, or some combination of both. Or are adulterous. Or have mental disorders. Or if you don't have self-confidence.

The natural talent you'd like to be gifted with:
Matthew Broderick's.

For what fault have you most toleration?:
I don't know. I'd like to say indecisiveness maybe, but I'm not sure.

Charlie Bartlett: 5/10