September 20, 2006 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: August 2006

Late? Pah! Lateness is our new motto. August was a fairly busy month, so let’s get going, foregoing subtley for speed.

Miami Vice is atrocious. Michael Mann might have done some classic films (I even enjoyed Tom Cruise vehicle, “Collateral“), but this is far from it. In fact, this is about as far removed from his previous film as possible: acting is woeful on all fronts (including from Oscar winner Jamie Foxx), the grainy cam is just annoying, the action is… non-existent, and the dialogue is amongst the worst committed to celluloid. Honestly, you will pray for the deaths of either of the main characters just so they can’t talk to each other. Awful stuff.

On the comedy front, Nacho Libre mixes the writing of Napoleon Dynamite with the comedy front of Jack Black. Normally loud and Dynamic, Black struggles to make anything of this quiet, near dead pan style; laughs becoming rarer and never getting above a chuckle. That said, there is something appealing about the wrestling scenes; maybe it’s the outlandish silliness of it all, or the midgets, but they just seem to work. Not bad, but not great.

After some absolutely awful superhero films, Superman Returns is surprisingly reasonable. Taking off after Superman 2, and taking some great liberties with the canon, the plot brings the camp visual jokes back to Earth with more emotional content dealing, as it does, primarily with the return of a man to a world that both no longer needs him and is screaming out for him. The echoes between the life of Clark and his alter-ego may lack subtlety, but this is still good, solid storytelling.

The ultimate burlesque model turned minor star gets a biopic in the form of The Notorious Bettie Page. It deals with the subject matter in a very superficial manner, suggesting that she wandered into her starhood and didn’t realise what she was doing, even after it was explained. It never goes into any worthwhile depth, showing merely a series of events in her life rather than taking a standpoint, any standpoint, and rigorously exploring it. A disappointment purely for it’s lack of any real insight into the icon.

Just about everyone has seen it now, so I will keep it brief: Snakes On A Plane is unashamedly trashy, cheap, brainless nonsense. It doesn’t stand up to the slightest hint of scrutiny, but no-one cares. It’s amusing because it knows how bad it is. It won’t be winning any awards (despite the tongue in cheek claims of star, Samuel L. Jackson) but probably worth seeing once.

Finally, set in a world where we’re losing the so called war on drugs and paranoia is at a record high, A Scanner Darkly explores a world in which perception and reality are orthogonal. Our hero, under a secret guise in his role as an undercover drugs agent, is assigned to monitor himself and his own life. As his drug uses increases and his mind slips, he takes us through a bizarre world, rendered in the most beautiful rotoscoped animation. Performances are sterling throughout, with Robert Downie Jr doing exceptional work. Insightful, schizophrenic, and funny, a film worth seeing.

The obvious and clear winner is, of course, A Scanner Darkly.