I’m not talking about that Richard Gere/Michael Sheen movie directed by Michael Brandt, just so we’re clear. This is the new Richard Ayoade flick, co-written by Avi Korine (brother of Harmony Korine) and starring two of my favorite contemporary actors Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska. Richard Ayoade wrote and directed coming of age indie Submarine, which was somewhat of a smash hit, and now he’s coming back this film that is listed as ‘comedy’ on IMDb, but looks like a mystery/surreal type of deal to me. By that I’m not saying that it won’t be funny, but it’s hard to judge based on this first trailer, which is more of a teaser.
No dialogue, no spoilers (I hope), just Inconceivable by Wallace Shaw playing to some images of the film. A lovely montage if you ask me. It looks like Eisenberg has a doppelgänger, but honestly I don’t need to know more than that. I’m intrigued by this film, but I can’t help but thinking that the whole Jesse Eisenberg/Michael Cera thing is still going on in terms of casting. If you remember Michael Cera had sort of “created” a double personality for himself in Youth in Revolt to get into this girl’s pants and that’s a lot like having a doppelgänger (or at least similar). This year both Eisenberg and Cera had a movie about magic coming out (Now You See Me and Magic Magic respectively). Before that Eisenberg was in a film about a zombie apocalypse (Zombieland), while Cera just played himself in This is the End a comedy about the end of the world.
I don’t know if I really have a point with all this, I just thought it was interesting and worth mentioning, but let’s not forget the trailer! Here it is. Thoughts?
Welcome to another weekly update of the movies I watched during the past week.
Being back home for the summer I try to watch as many films as possible with my family. Naturally they prefer more recent stuff, so that’s what my weekly viewings with them will focus on. Coincidentally, there were also a lot of new releases that I wanted to review and so this past week I ended up watching a lot of ‘newer’ films. My brother being mostly a horror and comedy guy, that was how I picked the movies in terms of genre.
As for the ‘meh’ or ‘just-okay’ films I’ve seen, I only have one on my list and that would be the Maniac remake. In case you haven’t read my review yet, click this.
Like every week I like to turn over the question to you and ask: What ‘meh’ movies did you watch last week?
Thank you for reading my blog.
Unfortunately, like (almost) every week, there has to be a couple stinkers. Last week I watched two of those: Eli Roth’s written and produced Aftershock (2012) and Italian comedy The Worst Christmas of My Life (2012). Sadly, both of those failed to impress me, if you’re still undecided about them read my mini-reviews and find out why.
Aftershock (2012) – 3.5 (IMDb 4.8) – Horror (USA)
Shot and set in Chile, the latest Eli Roth production is a disappointment on almost every level. Being a fan of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever and his Hostel films, and I think he is a very knowledgable genre expert. He also seems to be a completely sweet and likable guy, so it is almost heartbreaking to see his career take such a wrong turn, even though I realize he didn’t direct this film.
Aftershock is about a group of (unlikable) guys partying in Chile. As in most horror films, something goes terribly wrong: In this case mother nature takes a stab at playing the villainous role. The exploitation film and tries to imitate the genre’s humor, but fails miserably with badly timed jokes and unfunny remarks. The violent elements such as the rape fail to make an impact, because of the way their presented and shot and the surprising lack of nudity. While the film’s first two acts are a rehash of Eli’s own Hostel films, the third act tries to be a mean-spirited, nihilistic exploration of human nature, but ends up feeling completely unearned. The loosely drawn character archetypes, imitating The Hangover’s annoying and unfunny trio, and the poor acting rob the film from any credibility and sense of realism.
Fear and shock, can only be achieved if the viewer has any shred of belief in what’s being presented to him: Aftershock is as clichéd and unrealistic as it gets. Still, I can’t bring myself to fully hate this film, because of Eli’s involvement, the exotic location, some eye candy and a cameo by Spring Breakers star Selena Gomez.
Il Peggior Natale Della Mia Vita (2012) – 4 (IMDb 5.4) – Comedy (Italy)
The Worst Christmas of My Life is the sequel to Alessandro Genovesi’s own The Worst Week of My Life (2011), both of which star the charming and adorable Fabio De Luigi. The movie is about an ‘extended’ family spending Christmas at their bosses castle in northern Italy. Just like in the previous film, Fabio’s Fantozzi-esque character Paolo is at the centre of all kinds of unfortunate events, that piss off most of his relatives, but make the audience smile. Of course everything resolves (in a way) and Paolo saves everybody’s favorite holiday.
De Luigi and is the only reason me and my brother decided to watch this movie, pretty much expecting a silly comedy, with silly gags. Being Italian you can’t help but laugh at some of the jokes, though half the laughs are unintentional. Genovesi’s obnoxious and uninspired directing style doesn’t get any better with this one. Much like in Happy Family (2010), he is deliberately ripping off Wes Anderson’s style and quirks, and doing a bad job at that. Even in his casting choices he’s trying to imitate Anderson’s genius. Whenever the film tries something that is not Wes Anderson related it is even worse. Every scene has a score, mostly not fitting the scene at all, and the plot doesn’t come together as nicely and satisfying as the filmmakers would like you to believe. Genovesi’s nauseating copying of Wes Anderson is so distracting it takes you out of the movie, while De Luigi’s likable screen persona somewhat manages to rescue it from complete ridicule.
This past week I managed to watch mostly films I really enjoyed. Part of it had to do with me re-watching one of my favorites in Gregg Araki’s Kaboom (2010) and Jørgen Leth’s Det perfekte menneske (1967), so those were safe bets. Also, how could I dislike a documentary about one of my all time favorite filmmakers? Impossible. In The Realm of the Senses, was not a surprise either, because everything that is in the Criterion Collection is there for a reason and always worth checking out.
In the Realm of the Senses (1976) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.6) – Drama, Romance, History (Japan)
You know how some movies are described as “wall-to-wall action”? By that same token In the Realm of the Senses would fall in the category of “wall-to-wall sex”. Contrary to exploitation cinema, this film however is artfully shot and composed and never goes into sleazy territory, even if its subject matter would easily allow it to. Then again it is based on true events, so maybe that’s what’s grounds the film into some kind of reality and good taste.
The story about two lovers that are physically consumed by their lust and carnal desires succeeds, because it embraces its subject matter without being judgmental or condescending. If you’re starting to get excited about Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, I can imagine this would make a great double-feature and approach some of the same themes. Much like Nagisa Ôshima’s Empire of Passion (1978) the climax of the film is pure poetry. Definitely recommended if you like movies that are less about plot and more about penetrating into the mind of its characters and exploring the madness that is our human nature.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012) – 8 (IMDb 7.6) – Documentary, Biography (USA)