Archive for September 5th, 2007

Balls of Fury

September 5, 2007

balls of furyTaking a cue more from Stephen Ciao’s “Shaolin Soccer” than any of the comedy sports films of the last few years, all seemingly starring Wil Ferrell, “Balls of Fury” is a trifle but a silly delight none the less. And how could it not be silly as it delves into the underground world of ping-pong. It’s written by a couple of those guys from the hilarious “Reno 911” and directed and starring one and the other as well. Part of me wants to say you don’t really need to see it, but the other part had enough fun that thinks it wouldn’t not be bad if you did.

Here’s a list of things I enjoyed:

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Halloween

September 5, 2007

michael meyersI’m glad Rob Zombie’s update of “Halloween” is doing so well at the box office. I generally like to see a good horror film, and really like being scared, but I’m afraid if they start doing poorly at the box office they’ll stop making them. I’m willing to sit through a few poor attempts to get to a gem. I’m sorry to say however that for all of it’s good intentions the new incarnation of Michael Meyers fails to scare or please or disturb or…

Rob Zombie is an interesting director. I love his meandering camera, falling in and out of focus it almost feels like it accidentally finds its subject making it more surprising for the audience when something shows up. In the original John Carpenter used empty space to unsettle it’s audience, Zombie rarely allows us to get our footing in the space the characters are in. What he’s going for is less glossy Freddy Kreuger and more low budget Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which when you consider it would be really cool. Unfortunately in trying to find that 70’s art house low budget slasher mojo he falls prey to some really bad cliches.

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3:10 to Yuma

September 5, 2007

crowe in 310It’s difficult to talk about a Western these days without pontificating about it’s place in our current film industry. It always bothers me when a reviewer or writer claims that the Western is dead. That it is not the gold mine of olden days does not mean it’s dead, that very little else can be explored within the themes of the morally gray old west does not mean it’s dead, that it seems to be a place where Directors with a few hits on their shoulders or actors looking to try something different or have a little fun wander into this territory to say that they’ve made a Western does certainly not mean it’s dead. In fact over the past few years I’ve seen a litter of great western movies made. Costner’s “Open Range” was incredibly entertaining, honest, and sorely over looked, as was “The Proposition” starring Guy Pearce alongside other fine actors. Then of course there’s “Unforgiven” and several television movies. You also have the other end of the spectrum with up and coming actors (Heath Ledger, Collin Ferrel to name a couple) who wander into this territory wanting to stand out but not really knowing what to do with it once they get there. I guess you could say like any genre, it all depends on how good or bad the story is. The story presented in the James Mangold remake “3:10 to Yuma” is about a down on his luck rancher and Father, Dan Evans, played by Christian Bale who comes across an opportunity to make some money which could save the ranch and his family by escorting notorious robber and murderer Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe, to the train station that will take him to prison and a hanging. But Wade’s team of robbers is hot on their tail. And Evan’s son sneaks along to prove himself a man. There are two types of Westerns; the gritty almost too real look at an old school world becoming a modern one and then there’s the glossy stylized shoot-em ups (i.e. Sam Raimi’s “The Quick and the Dead”, also starring Crowe.) “3:10” falls somewhere in between finding just the right amount of each to remain playfully interesting. I will also say a Western done correctly is like the best of science fiction; the story is not only there to entertain, but to delve into the human psyche under great amounts of stress, and like the vastness of space the rugged open planes signify that inner turmoil created many times by an outer conflict between two people. The best kind of Western jars the line between evil and righteousness, and “3:10” is no exception. In fact, it does it’s job fairly well.

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