The Last Stand (Kim Jee-won) **1/2 - It's an Ah-nuld vehicle co-starring Johnny Knoxville and it's being released in January. What the hell am I doing seeing this? Well, it's directed by Kim Jee-woon, the Korean director behind I Saw The Devil, a pretty darn good (and crazy violent) action/horror flick. The plot is predictable, formulaic and derivative but a lot of it is undeniably fun (and outrageous and ridiculous). The film has the feeling of a rather old-fashioned '80s/'90s action picture along with the cartoonishly evil villains and strong violence. Kim's stylistic flourishes makes things a bit more interesting than it probably should. Not a bad time killer.
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by
Sapphire (Lee Daniels) *** - Since it's Oscar season, I decided I will
catch up on the few recent Best Picture nominees I still haven't seen, starting
with this. I must say, right off the bat, I think the number of appalling
misfortunes that the title character has endured is bordering on ridiculous,
almost darkly comedic. Some scenes border on camp/parody and Lee Daniels'
directorial choices aren't helping it very much. But what makes this film
absolutely work are the performances of Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton and most
especially Mo'Nique, who richly deserved her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. A
few scenes involving these actresses tested the strength of my tear ducts.
The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi) ***1/2 -
Having seen and loved the sequels, I could have sworn I have seen this film. But
as it turns out, I have not, at least, not all the way through. I think I've
seen chunks of this when I was very young but not the whole movie. So naturally
I thought I had to see this all the way through especially now that a remake is
in the horizon. I have to say that it's a scary fun horror movie with
over-the-top gore that's really fun to watch. The obvious low-budget nature of
the film adds to its charm.
The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona)
**1/2 - Let's clear some things first: I didn't find the fact that they turned a
Spanish family into British offensive or racist. I didn't mind that this is a
story from the point of view of a fairly well-off Western European family and
that it has a happy ending. It would've nice and would've been a lot better if
the film didn't make it seem like the people who suffered the most are the white
tourists and the Thai people were not mostly relegated to being the helpful
natives which I found somewhat patronizing. But even then, the film is still
somewhat a strictly by-the-numbers triumph-of-the-human-spirit type of film,
well-made but cliched. It's redeemed somehow by newcomer Tom Holland's
performance. He managed to add layers of growth and nuance in his character. It
ALMOST made me want to forgive the film's flaws. Almost.