Category Archives: Subversive

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Today and tomorrow I cast out demons and work cures. On the third day, I will be perfected.

— Jesus

 

After the rapture did not happen last week, I wanted to see the controversial Martin Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ. The only thing that I have heard is the controversy of having Jesus portrayed as a flawed mortal and not the savior most people know. I didn’t realize that it received the Criterion treatment, but I knew that it was nominated for a single Oscar for Best Director. I think that I would have had a strong reaction back then instead of now.

Based on the 1960 Nikos Kazantzakis novel, the movie is a fictionalized account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth (Willem Dafoe). Jesus is a mortal living his life as a carpenter living with his mother, Mary (Verna Bloom). He is haunted by bouts of fainting spells, widespread pain all over his body and the voices he hears. He doesn’t know if it’s God or the Devil talking to him.

His best friend, Judas (Harvey Keitel) visits him to ask him why is he building crosses for Roman so they could crucify his fellow Jews. Jesus takes pity on the people that he has sent on the cross. The villagers think that he is a traitor and should be killed for his actions. Whenever he walks across the town with the cross, people throw rocks at him. He is spat upon by Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey), the local prostitute.

Jesus continues to hear the voices speaking to him. He is conflicted because he doesn’t want to be the messiah. Jesus tries to make God hate him so he could make another person the messiah. He is afraid of every aspect of his life.

He wants to seek forgiveness from Mary Magdalene before Jesus sets off on his journey for absolution. She doesn’t understand why he couldn’t love her and she does for him. While he was purified on his sins, he tries to preach the word of God, but he is not the best speaker to deliver God’s message.

Meanwhile, Judas is sent to kill Jesus, but he doesn’t. He decides to join him on his ultimate mission with the apostles to preach God’s message to the people of Jerusalem. Jesus makes some selfish decisions that could ultimately effected the course of his purpose on Earth.

My first thoughts of this movie are that , why is Harvey Keitel in this movie? He has his regular accent in B.C. Israel. Say what? Ever heard of a dialect coach? I felt like the story was not intriguing enough for me to invest my time with it. Let me tell you, it was a lot of time. The movie is 2 1/2 hours long. I did not feeling anything with the movie. If you have been a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I am not a religious person. Organized religion bothers me that I have to be this person and not myself.

I wish that the movie would have provoked a response, but I think that people are not as easily offended today then they were twenty years ago.

Judgment: This movie should have been dumped into the Dead Sea where it belongs.

Rating: 3/10

Advertisements

Easy A (2010)

The rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.

— Olive Penderghast

Easy A is one of those that I wanted to see, but I was hesitant to watch. Maybe because that is could have sucked, just another chick flick or maybe the high praise for the movie would give me high expectations for it. A friend of mine wanted to watch the movie via Netflix Watch Instantly while I was over at her place. The movie was surprisingly good.

Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a typical high schooler. She doesn’t belong to a particular clique. She wants to find a date. She is interested in long-time friend, Todd (Penn Badgely) who is the school mascot, the Woodchuck, but she is too chicken to tell him how she feels.

Olives lies to her best friend, Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) about going on a “date” to get out of a dorky camping trip thrown by her parents, Rosemary (Patricia Clarkson) and Dill (Stanley Tucci)  to stay home alone. When Olive is grilled about the date until she lies to Rhiannon that lost her virginity to a college guy.

The news spread throughout the school like a virus when the ultra-conservative Marianne (Amanda Bynes) overhears what Olive said. The Christian group at school, which Marianne is the leader, want to help Olive and go to the English teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church) to talk about the shame she should feel when they are discussing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”

The kids at school suggest that she should wear an “A” on her chest, which she takes it as a challenge. Instead of being on the defensive about the rumor to stop it, Olive put more fuel on the fire. She changes her clothing and wears the A on her chest proudly.

A couple of the boys from school try to take advantages of Olive’s supposed reputation by paying her in gift cards to tell the school that they had slept with her. The fun and games are over when the accusations become out of Olive’s and could destroy other people’s lives.

The movie reminded me that I miss Dawson’s Creek. You have these kids that have this dialogue that no one would eve say, but it works in this movie. The dialogue is fucking hilarious. I wish that I could have been in that high school where everybody is cool and new age from the adults to the students to Olive’s adopted brother, Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins).

I really enjoyed this movie until the last act of the movie where it got into familiar territory that bugged me.

Judgment: This movie could be the next Clueless.

Rating: 8/10

Talk to Me (2007)

 I’ll tell it to the hot, I’ll tell it to the cold. I’ll tell it to the young, I’ll tell it to the old. I don’t want no laughin’, I don’t want no cryin’, and most of all, no signifyin’. This is Petey Greene’s Washington.

— Petey Greene

I did not mean for this to be a Kasi Lemmon’s double feature, but I was taken aback when I saw her name as the director of Talk to Me. I vaguely remember the movie when it was in theaters in 2007. It seemed like a nice enough movie, but I never got the nerve to watch until now. I’m glad I did.

An uptight radio program director, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) visits his brother, Milo (Mike Epps) in prison. He comes out of obligation. They overhear an abrasive voice coming over the loudspeaker. It belongs to do Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr. (Don Cheadle) who is broadcasting his show out of Warden Smithers (Peter MacNeill) office. Milo has been writing Dewey about Petey.

The station that Dewey works for, WOL is sagging listenership and is looking for a new deejay to replace Sunny Jim Kelsey (Vondie Curtis-Hall) in the morning shift. Dewey doesn’t like Petey’s delivery and tries to leave the prison. Dewey is cornered by Petey’s main squeeze, Vernell (Taraji P. Henson) to give him a chance when he gets out of the joint.

Dewey blindly agree to it. When Petey is released from prison and come barging through the doors asking for the job, Dewey acts stupid about it. After not getting the position, Petey decides to protest the station doors until he could get the position. Dewey asks the station owner, Mr. Sonderling (Martin Sheen) to give him an opportunity.

After a shaky start, Petey becomes a prominent voice of the black community during the civil rights movement in the late 60s. No other station was talking about black issues at the time. People needed to hear the stories that are happening in their community.

I was laughing my ass off with this movie. Don Cheadle has a delivery that make you believe that he is this character. I enjoyed the way that Petey told it like it is. He didn’t give a damn about who he offended. Some things needed to be said. I loved that. Chiwetel Ejiofor was great as Dewey. He even won the Indie Spirit Award for his performance. It was well-deserved.

Judgment: I love watching a story about a person that I never heard of and I would like to get the chance to know more.

Rating: 8/10

Review and Rant of Kick-Ass (2010)

With no power, comes no responsibility. Except, *that* wasn’t true.

— Dave Lizewski

I saw some Comic-Con footage of the #146 movie of all time, Kick-Ass when it was leaked online before it was taken down. I saw footage of Hit Girl in action, the opening sequence of the film and I believe it was Kick-Ass’s first fight with the thugs. I was pumped to see this movie. I have been eagerly anticipating this movie when it was picked up by Lionsgate. I wanted to see it before it left theaters. I’m glad I did because I had a ball with this movie.

Based on Mark Millar & John S. Romita Jr.’s graphic novel, Kick-Ass is the ultimate examination in fanboy delusion. High schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) could be the typical comic book teenager. He is a total outcast that likes hanging out at Atomic Comics with his friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters). He is vagina repellent to all girls, especially to his crush, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca).

He ponders the question to his friends, why can’t someone become a superhero when the guys are constantly mugged a couple of thugs. Marty bluntly says that they would fucking die within a day. Dave ignores the warning of his friends and decides to become a superhero even though he has no powers whatsoever. He orders green and yellow wet suit online and decides to be a costume vigilante. He tries to train his body to be “super strong.”

The problem is not that much crime happens until he walks into a mugging outside of restaurant. He is taped by a stranger on their cellphone the remarkably clear footage is posted on YouTube. The local news pick up the story about this costumed hero. They want to know who is Kick-Ass.

Kick-Ass decides to create a MySpace account so random strangers could post messages praising him and asking him for help. Dave is enjoying the instant fame Kick-Ass is generating for him and he has to keep his secret identity. The coverage of this amateur attracts the attention of two other costume vigilantes that are in hiding, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moertz). Their paths cross when a local drug dealer, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) thinks that Kick-Ass is killing his business. He wants to kill Kick-Ass.

This movie went farther than Watchmen in my opinion. It tried to poke fun at the superhero origin story but still doesn’t go off the deep end. It was bloody, vulgar and fucking awesome. The action sequences especially with Hit-Girl were awesome.

The ultimate message of the movie is that we are desensitized to extreme violence. We don’t know that the world is not a safe place. It also showed us that bringing your fantasies like becoming a superhero into the real world is dangerous and could potentially get your killed if you try to do it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Power Ranger. I thought it was refreshing that a movie would give this generation a much needed wake up call it deserves. Just because you want that instant fame either from being a runaway hit on YouTube or being profile in your local news, you have to know that there is a dark side to instant fame. It’s not just the notoriety you will get. There will be people that want the same thing as you and would harm you to replace your name in the papers.

I’m not saying that this movie was perfect. Far from it. Not having read the graphic novel, I heard that the ending of the movie changed. I like some of the changes, but not all of them. I thought that the movie was poking fun at Spider-Man, Superman and Batman at the beginning of the movie. Towards the ends, however, the movie becomes a conventional superhero storyline with the hero in trouble, the damsel in distress watching idly by, and the over the top climatic action sequence to close out the film. I think the relationship between Dave and Katie felt forced and uninspired or the last scene with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl went into melodrama. It was a bit of a cop out.

Before I close out this review, I have something to say is that I don’t understand why Hit Girl is the make or break factor of this movie. Have the naysayers ever heard of a pre-pubescent girl cursing like a sailor? Oh, please. Get over yourselves. I cursed a blue streak when I was that age. What about the boy from Role Models? He was so obsessed with tits and talking about sex. Where people saying that it was a horrible movie, because they got this kid to say such filthy phrases? Did anybody say boo when Stand by Me came out? They were cussing and smoothing when their balls haven’t dropped. That was in 1986. What has changed? Just because a little girl is saying these words you would write off a movie.

I would understand if you don’t like this movie, because it subverts the typical superhero tropes of the outcast granted special abilities to fight crime and defeat the bad guy at the end. I understand. You cannot dismiss an entire movie, because you don’t like one character in it. There are a lot of movies where I hated a particular character but I still enjoyed the movie such as the little sister in (500) Days of Summer. I think it is very myopic for any critic to write off a movie because of one character that don’t like. What about the other characters of the film, the story, the pacing, the direction it is going? Does that factor in at all when you are giving your final verdict?

Maybe it’s because you have been watching movies for so long that you have become jaded about the message of the movie. I’m not trying to sound like a fanboy here, but you have to have an objective eye. You are giving your opinion on a movie that other people are going to read and form their opinion about whether to see it or not. If you write a movie off because one character then people are not going trust your opinion anymore. That is my take on this so called controversy.

Judgment: It is a subversive take on the superhero story tat people could enjoy if they open their minds to it.

Rating: ****

Humpday (2009)

Humpday was a movie that was featured at 2009 Sundance Film Festival and received good buzz from it. I heard the premise of the movie and it was interesting to me, which I will explain in my review. I did not come near me during last year. This movie crept in the top ten movies of year lists with the hosts of Filmspotting. This movie is described as a “mumblecore” film. I have not idea what the fuck that means. On the surface it’s a bromance gone way too far, but it’s a story about finding kinship with other person.

A young married Seattle couple is awakened at the middle of the night by a knock on their door. Ben (Mark Duplass) finds out it’s his old friend, Andrew (Joshua Leonard) came back to town after spending time in Mexico City after their college days. Ben’s wife, Anna (Alycia Delmore) doesn’t like the friend barging into their lives. They are still in the honeymoon phase, deciding whether to start a family or not.

Later on that day, Andrew meets a lesbian, more “pansexual” couple, Monica and Lily (Lynn Shelton, Tricia Williard). Andrew is into Monica. They invite him to their house to hang out. Andrew invites Ben to hang out with the gang. The trouble is that Anna wanted to cook dinner for the three of them so they could get to know each other. Straight-laced Ben tries to fit in with the bohemian crowd. The two of them forget the plans when they get drunk and stoned.

During the festivities, the conversation shifts to an amateur porn festival called “Humpfest”. It’s where a person makes a porn, it is screened for a bunch of people and it is quickly destroyed afterwards. Andrew is content on making one. Ben calls bullshit on Andrew’s plans to make an “artistic erotic art” film. Ben has an idea of doing something completely different and unexpected. Andrews think he should have Ben co-star in the porn with him. It’s two straight guys having sex with each other on camera that Sunday, which is two days away. No big deal.

The next morning, Anna is pissed at them, more at Ben for blowing her off. Ben recounts that the evening was his time to unwind and that he should be allowed that liberty once in awhile. She kinda understands, but she is still mad at him.

During a one-on-one basketball game, the tension between the best friends comes to a head. Getting over their hangover, they talk about their little project they were drunk. They have weirdness between them. They convinced themselves that they are making art, instead of testing each other’s limits. A major hurdle is telling Anna about their venture together.

2009 was the year of the bromantic comedy. This film took it to a completely new level of gay adjacent. This movie was more than two guys wanting to have a man on man consensual rape with each other. They actually wanted to get back the friendship that they lost all those years ago. It’s a bit refreshing.

I don’t get the motivations of Ben and Andrew. This person blows into town after “x” number of years and on whim you decide to have sex on film. Andrew confesses to Anna that he was mad at Ben for bailing on him after college. They were supposed to go on a global excursion together that didn’t happen. Now, they decide to bone each other. Is the director Lynn Shelton trying to break down conformity? Nobody could be 100% heterosexual or homosexual? Everybody should open themselves up to other possibilities?

Judgment: An interesting looks at male bonding taken to a different level.

Rating: ****

Read the rest of this entry

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.

— The Criminologist

The cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been entrenched in American culture since it bombed at the box office in 1975. I always wanted to go to the midnight showings of this movie, but I didn’t want to feel like a noob going there. I am familiar with the music seeing that I have the soundtrack to the 2001 Broadway revival. I get a kick out of going back into a time warp to visit Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his cretins of the night.

Nostalgia floods back when the first thing you see is those flame red lips singing the opening number about this tale of an uptight couple; Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) getting stranded one fateful night in a rainstorm. The Criminologist (Charles Gray) that recalls the events of that night narrates the tale.

They arrive at the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) with his band of misfits, abused manservant Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien), maid Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and groupie Columbia (Little Nell). Brad wants to use the telephone to get the car fixed, but the Doctor has other plans for the twosome.

He wants them to witness the birth of his perfect companion, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). As the night progress, the Transylvanians’ influence corrupts the good couple.

Everybody knows that the acting is not good bordering on soap opera melodrama. The music is spastic like the cast sucked helium before recording the soundtrack. Is it bad or is it so bad that it’s good?

Judgment: There is something enjoyable about this trainwreck of a movie.

Rating: ***1/2

Cry-Baby (1990)

I may be a drape, but I love your granddaughter. And if that’s a crime, I’ll stand convicted, ma’am.

— Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker

I believe that Cry-Baby is my first experience watching a John Waters movie from beginning to end. Known for his subversive movies, I was hesitant watching this film. I didn’t know how what to expect. I was surprised that this movie was more of a musical that anything else. It doesn’t that this is a good movie.

Taking place in Baltimore 1954, Wade Walter aka Cry Baby (Johnny Depp) and Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane) meet each other while getting a vaccination at the gym. They like each other but it like John Waters’ version of “Romeo and Juliet”. Cry-Baby is a Drape, one of the juvenile delinquents of the town. However, Alison is a Square through and through with her boyfriend Baldwin (Stephen Mailer) and grandmother (Polly Bergen) try to reel her inner drape back.

The two factions clash as Cry-Baby wants to participate in the RSVP talent contest at Mrs. Vernon-Williams’ charm school. Cry-Baby crashes the contest to whisk Alison away on his brand new motorcycle from his grandmother, Ramona Rickettes (Susan Tyrrell), grandmother and uncle Belvedere (Iggy Pop) to his favorite drape hang out, Turkey Point.

Alison meets the rest of Cry-Baby crew that doesn’t tale a liking to the outsider. There is Cry-Baby’s badass pregnant sister Pepper (Ricki Lake), the vixen Wanda (Traci Lords) and the couple Milton (Darren E. Burrows) and Hatchet-Face (Kim McGuire). There is a Drape wannabe Lenora (Kim Webb) has a crush on Cry-Baby, she is the romantic rival.

At the Drapes’ own talent show, Jukebox Jamboree showed Alison what Cry-Baby can do with his voice, hips and electric guitar-playing. Alison is torn between her duties of being with her Square boyfriend, Baldwin or have a wild ride with Cry-Baby.

The movie was short. It felt rushed. It was shallow. Pop in and out. That’s it. I wasn’t invested in the character long enough to care about them. The musical sequences were very entertaining. That’s all.

Judgment: I heard that there is a Broadway musical of this movie, I’d rather see that.

Rating: **1/2

Shortbus (2006)

shortbus

These bitches sucking cock and eating ass… then they show up at the buffet and say they’re vegan.

— Justin Bond

I am familiar with John Cameron Mitchell’s work, thoroughly enjoying his transsexual rock musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I eagerly wanted for his follow-up. Now, we have Shortbus. It’s not going to be a classic film, but a suitable one.

The focus of film is on Jaime (PJ Deboy) and James’ (Paul Dawson) relationship. They have been together for five years that are thinking about opening up their relationship. James is severely depressed. James carries around a video camera to record his life for a pet project of his that he is keeping secret from Jaime.

They go to see Dr. Sofia Lin (Sook-Yin Kim), a couple’s counselor that is having trouble achieving an orgasm from her husband, Rob (Raphael Barker). The couple tells Sofia about a sex club called “Shortbus”. Justin Bond is the mistress of the club that shows Sofia around the place.

She befriends Severin (Lindsay Beamish), a dominatrix that is looking for a meaningful relationship. They try to fix each other’s problems.

Jaime and James find a possible third partner in their relationship, Ceth (Jay Brannan). They should be happy, right? Nothing is, as it seems. There is a neighbor across the way that is obsessed with James, Caleb (Peter Stickles).

The movie tackles the topic of relationships and all that comes along with that; love, commitment, monogamy and sex. It’s infamously known that the unknown actors had un-simulated sex in the movie. I think that Mitchell wanted to have an honest portrayal of what two people is thinking, feeling, acting in a couple. You cannot shy away from sex. It’s a part of life and we should not be a afraid of it.

The core message of the film is connection in whatever configuration that might be. That tired saying, “find your bliss” can be applied here.

I understand Mitchell’s intentions with the film. I enjoyed two-thirds of this film, but the last falls off the rails into some weird shit.

Judgment: If you want to see somebody sing the national anthem into somebody’s ass, watch this film.

Rating: ***1/2

The Big Lebowski (1998)

big_lebowski_ver1

Goddamn you Walter! You fuckin’ asshole! Everything’s a fuckin’ travesty with you, man! And what was all that shit about Vietnam? What the FUCK, has anything got to do with Vietnam? What the fuck are you talking about?

— The Dude

The #158 Movie of All Time on IMDb: The Big Lebowski has been a divisive film since its release in 1998. Some people have since it and dismissed as garbage, upon a second viewing they loved it. This is the first time that I have seen it. I am tittering between it being pure genius and pretentious bullshit.

The unemployed bum simply known as “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges) becomes the anti-hero of this story. Being mistaken for a millionaire that share his real name Jeff Lebowski (David Huddleston), a pair of thugs rough him up. During the encounter, one of the thugs pees on his “prized” rug.

The Dude seeks out the other Lebowski to get him to pay for the rug. This action leads to chain of events that spiral out of control. Lebowski and his manservant, Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) want to get Lebowski’s young wife, Bunny (Tara Reid) back who has been kidnapped.

The Dude is mixed up with a trio of nihilists (Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges), a pornographer, Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara), Lebowski’s feminist daughter, Maude (Julianne Moore) who all want something from him. There is also his bowling buddies, Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) that want to occupy his time.

This movie is a mind fuck. You wonder when the ending credits start; did the Coens take LSD when they conceived of the movie? In the beginning, the characters carried on some inane conversations that go around in circles. It infuriated me. “We get it! Move on.”

The sequences go from dark to slapstick to tripped out. I had no idea what I was watching. I tried to make some sense out of it. I concluded with this.

At the core of this movie, you have to understand that every character is living in their own universe. They are self-absorbed, needy, and selfish. The only way the monotonous conversations make any sense is that nobody is listening to each other. Perhaps for a split second before they launch into their polemics about urine soaked rugs, mistaken identity and bowling etiquette.

My mind needs time to digest what I seen.

Judgment: This movie should be watched more than once to understand it fully.

Rating: ***1/2 (with wiggle room)

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

ioi7fk

Lance Clayton is about to get everything he deserves.

This is my first experience with a Bobcat Goldthwait movie. Not seeing the doggie blowjob movie, I was not expecting much from this movie. The /Filmcast were reviewing the movie recently and I heard people praising this movie from Sundance. The praise was well justified.

(The following will contain plots and minor spoilers to set up the premise of the movie. You have been warned.)

World’s Greatest Dad tells the story of the ho-hum life of Lance Clayton (Robin Williams). He is a poetry teacher at his son’s high school. Lance is an aspiring fiction writer that is having trouble getting his work published. He is rejected from numerous publishing houses.

Lance is secretly dating fellow teacher, Claire Reed (Alexie Gilmore), even though she has a budding friendship with the more attractive teacher, Mike (Henry Simmons).

Lance’s teenaged son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), the pervy asshole is fixated on anything about vaginas, oral sex or the Hershey highway accidentally kills himself from auto-erotic asphyxiation. Rather than be embarrassed the ramifications if the news broke, he stages the scene that he hanged himself and wrote a suicide note.

Lance tries to put the pieces back together. He seeks solace with his girlfriend, a next-door neighbor, and Kyle’s best friend, Andrew (Evan Martin).

After the news spread throughout the school, students who barely Kyle wanted to know everything about him. Lance has to lie about Kyle being a torture soul that was a brilliant writer in order to get his foot in the door for national discovery.

On the surface, the plot would be ridiculous with the entire school going gaga over Kyle’s death. People would view this movie different. Personally, this movie shows the American public’s fascination with a tragedy to try to exploit it and profit from it.

This movie was funny, but it had some touching moments that made me tear up.

In the end, the title of the movie is ironic. I can’t spoil it any further. All I can say is that you can expect some things and unexpectedly things will happen.

Judgment: If you want to see a good movie or you are a fan of Bruce Hornsby, watch this movie.

Rating: ****1/2

%d bloggers like this: