Archive for September, 2016

23
Sep
16

Look Who’s Back

Like many people, I have a morbid fascination with World War II and the Third Reich. Seventy years later, we still produce movies and books set in this era. It was a pivotal time, perhaps the most important in human history. And with the Nazi party being so ludicrously evil, well, it’s hard not to be fascinated by them. Fascination is not the same thing as condoning, mind you. They were evil personified, and it’s hard not to examine them. So, when I heard about the 2014 German film, Look Who’s Back, I jumped at the chance to watch it.

Look Who’s Back is simultaneously one of the most hilarious and frightening films I have seen in a very long time. The premise is brilliant: Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern-day Germany, and everyone he encounters thinks he’s a method actor doing performance art. But he isn’t doing anything like that, he’s the Fuhrer, and he wants to seize control again.

Continue reading ‘Look Who’s Back’

17
Sep
16

The Expendables 3, Nightcrawler

The Expendables 3

In many ways, The Expendables 3 is the best and worst entry in this tired franchise. Sylvester Stallone stuffs even more of his buddies in this film than the previous two. It’s mind-boggling to think about how many washed-up actors signed on. There are way too many people, and nobody has any time for character development. That, of course, is something Stallone isn’t interested in. All he wants to do is flash as many old-school action stars on the screen in as short a time as possible, and blow up tons of shit in the process.

This film is the best of the franchise because it tries to have an actual plot. It also tries to give Stallone’s character a backstory. That is far more plot work than the other two films combined. Unfortunately, the backstory is paper thin, and the plot is tired. The only other thing that works for this movie is Mel Gibson as the villain. He’s by far the best actor in this piece of crap, and you can see his trademark charisma on screen. It’s too bad he had to have such a racist meltdown, because he really is a good actor.

This film is the worst of the franchise because of the aforementioned glut of characters and lack of development. Also, the movie is subtly racist. In the beginning of the film, they rescue Wesley Snipes. But then Terry Crews gets shot by Gibson and sits out the rest of the film in the hospital. Apparently, the Expendables team is only allowed to have one black character at a time. What a bunch of horseshit. Finally, there is some atrocious CGI, and Stallone outruns a collapsing building. It’s worse than you can imagine.

Verdict: Shitty

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal is racking up a rather diverse filmography. After his weirdo performance in Prisoners, he turned in a giant creeper role in Nightcrawler. This movie has a brilliant concept, one of those things that you wish you thought of so you could have written the film and become a millionaire. The premise is that TV news stations regularly feature footage recorded by freelancers who go to crime scenes or accident sites. They buy the best footage for use on the air.

Gyllenhaal plays a nightcrawler, trolling the seedy L.A. world for crimes or accidents (mostly blood and guts) that he can sell to the highest bidder. At first, he’s low-level, but he has a knack for the work, and quickly does rather well for himself. He manages to get some crazy exclusives, coming upon a murder in progress before the police even know about it. This story thread continues to the end, with Gyllenhaal beginning to manipulate real world events so he can continue to have news stories to sell.

Gyllenhaal plays a fantastic sociopath in this film. He doesn’t care about others, only himself. He manipulates the TV station, he trounces his competition, and he is completely devoid of emotion. His acting was rather amazing, and you completely believe he is this detestable character.

Nightcrawler showcases a world you never knew existed. From now on, whenever you see a news report, you’ll wonder if it was gathered from a real reporter or a freelancer. Gyllenhaal turns in a memorable performance, and the direction is pitch-perfect.

Verdict: Good

03
Sep
16

Hara-kiri (1962)

Hara-kiri is a 1962 samurai film directed by Masaki Kobayashi and starring Tatsuya Nakadai. Generally speaking, I don’t really like Japanese live action films much. I don’t know why I keep watching them. They are mostly garbage. Fortunately, this one was a lot different.

It’s hard to explain what this movie is about without spoiling everything that happens. So, I’ll just give you the gist of it. During the feudal period in Japan, many samurai were left without masters (ronin). Some would go to the homes of lords and ask for a place where they could commit Hara-kiri to die with honor. Sometimes, though, certain ronin would not kill themselves, and refuse to leave the Lord’s home unless they were paid off.

Nakadai shows up at the home of one such lord. He is a ronin and wants to commit Hara-kiri. The lord is away, so Nakadai speaks with his head counselor. The counselor is uncertain about letting Nakadai commit Hara-kiri, because the last ronin who showed up for this very purpose did so as a bluff to get money.

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