Archives for posts with tag: sex

spring-breakers1

Why did so many people like this again? Oh yeah, vaguely non-linear editing and boobs.

I wasn’t going to watch this but I’d heard it was “surprisingly good” and things like that. So what’s the prevalent critical narrative about Spring Breakers? That it’s a film that disguises itself as being a party flic and is instead a social commentary. If you didn’t get it most of the way through, having been hypnotized by the bikinis and thongs and widespread jiggling of all kinds, Harmony Korine hits you with a sledge hammer that says “Here is some satire!” But let’s be perfectly honest, Korine wants to have it all. He wants to be able to make a film that calls into question the hedonistic party life and its moral vacuousness, but he also wants his slow-motion shots of naked breasts flopping under streams of beer.

So Wikipedia posts a “controversy” section in its article on the film, with the subheading “Sexist or Feminist” for the wild debate that has gone on around it. It’s not that complicated. The film plays with excess in a way that’s semi-intelligent, but it’s really just male fantasy with a bit of a conscience. It’s the Wild Things (1998) of the day, and Vanessa Hudgens may have proved she can play the minx, but other than that I wasn’t particularly entertained. Because this ought to be entertaining, at least in a truly base way, since its attempt at real thematic content is, at best, lame.

Oh though James Franco should deserve credit for being so gross in such a convincing way.

Now cry, Selena Gomez, cry. And cry again. And cry some more. (Because this film relies on lots of annoying repetitions.)

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KA-Carrey-L

Humor and gore and milking a dead cow.

The first Kick-Ass film was alright. It had some cheap funny lines, some ridiculous action, and the novelty of a hyper-violent preteen vigilante character. Kick-Ass 2, on the other hand, screens like fan fiction. If the first one had any substance, this one has significantly less.

A few problems. First: a gimmick only works once. So, for example, abruptly killing off a character that seemed like he would stick around? Works once. Twice, thrice? Not so much. Second problem: too many heavy-handed symmetries. Hero team vs Villain team ; promises to two dead dads ; revenge for two dead dads ; etc. Third problem: trying to run on the fumes of the motivations of the last film doesn’t work. The whole opening movement is just wimpy tie-ins. Fourth problem: we’ve managed to kill that John Murphy theme that has now been prominently featured in both films of the Kick-Ass franchise, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine. Killed it dead.

I suppose this is still a little entertaining, to a certain degree. It still manages to be a bit surprising in how it mixes light teen-movie tone with explicit violence and the crude handling of sex and shit and other things. There’s still a plot with things happening. Some of the jokes are funny. It has the surprise bonus of featuring John Leguizamo and Donald Faison (honestly, seeing these two guys on camera was my favorite part of this film–well, that and the bit where Mindy gets worked up seeing the “Union J” music video). But after that?

This film is ultimately not recommended. It does nothing better than the first film, and mostly doesn’t do as well with what it repeats. And it carries many faults on its back. Better to watch the first one a second time. Or watch Watchmen. Or, best, read the Watchmen graphic novel.

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I hated this film.

It’s just an extended apology for male violence, and would be so even if you took out all the rape. Yes, let’s be clear, Paul rapes Jeanne multiple times, not just in the scene with the butter. But even if we had removed the rape, Paul is a man who uses force to get what he wants, uses his body, and a few scenes of him crying doesn’t redeem him.

There are plenty of films with unredeemed, nasty characters in it, even plenty of films with rape in them, that are able to be stomached, sometimes even liked, because of how they treat the topic. I’m not for cinema that pretends rape doesn’t exist or that men never use force to take what they desire. But I can’t happily sit through an apology for it. Yes, sure, Paul is tortured, but that doesn’t excuse him, or the film that tries to make him its antihero. You can feel it, that Bertolucci loved this character. Not me.

Besides that: Brando speaking French is pure horror. Seventies faux-jazz saxophone. Mostly bad dialogue. And the playful side story of Jeanne’s cineaste fiancé, well it just reminds me of Godard playing with the cinema industry, but it’s not as good. There are some beautiful shots. Bertolucci should have stuck to that. And maybe made Maria Schneider all the film was really about. Maria Schneider walking through Paris, that would have been wonderful. But that’s not what we got. We got saxophone, rape, and a bullshit excuse for a resolution.

On last summary: fake French from Brando; fake jazz saxophone; fake arthouse cinema; fake pornography; real rape. I can’t wait to see another film, even a bad one, to get Last Tango in Paris.

9-s-lo-con-tu-pareja-love-in-the-time-of-hysteria-mexico

Before Alfonso Cuarón got all grave on us (tee hee), he was making romantic comedies and they were rather good!

Here, in his first feature film, we have the story of an unlikely lothario, Tomás Tomás, who is careless in his affairs to the point of disregarding his personal safety as well as that of the women he seduces. This leads him into a series of very difficult situations, and as his life gets more complicated, he begins to realize that his lifestyle doesn’t serve him once he falls in love with his beautiful neighbor, Clarissa. Add in a whole bunch of other stuff and you’ve got it!

I imagine this film being made by a French team and starring Romain Duris and not being quite as good. The zany 90s feel of it (I seem to be catching quite a few 90s flicks in the recent months) is fun, and there are so many fine touches, such as jokes repeating like leitmotifs, that it’s endearing even as it ends up slightly predictable. I am regret having just enough Spanish to know that significant wordplay is going on, but without understanding what it might be. Sólo Con Tu Pareja may have the second best dream sequence of all time, though, after Dumbo. Ah wait. That’s a drunk scene, not a dream sequence.

[Cue Inexplicable Mexican Wrestler]

Let’s get serious, though: Cuarón is amazing. Even as this film feels like juvenilia, it’s very good quality for a 90s romantic comedy. If it had been the first of his films that I’d seen, I probably never would have guessed that he’d go on to make Children of Men, for example, and Sólo Con Tu Pareja does not come close to his other work, but I’m still happy to have seen it. I haven’t even had a chance to see Gravity yet and I love this director like Tomás loves Clarisa. I really hope he has a long and fruitful career. (His non-directorial production credits are also awesome…)

I just quickly read A.O. Scott’s NYTimes review of the film and I think he largely agrees with me. Good job, Anthony! Which reminds me, this film features one of the five most tasteless jokes I’ve ever seen in a film. Intriguing? I guess you’ll have to watch it, then, because I’m not going to tell you what it is! (Tee hee!)

Now I need to learn some Spanish. I want to know the exact language when Tomás asks Clarisa, “You feel an abyss between us?” And she answers, “Yes. A very small one.”

Alright, I’m off to look up every Claudia Ramírez film ever made.

tampa

I generally don’t “rate” or “review” books written by friends, so as  to avoid any possibility of dishonesty as a reviewer. And usually, I extend that policy even to informal venues, like GoodReads or my personal blogs. When I do talk about my friends’ work, I try to be as honest as possible about my relationship, so that anyone who reads what I write will know that I am absolutely partial. So is the case with this book: Alissa Nutting is a friend of mine, and I cannot speak about her work with any pretext of objectivity…

[click here for the rest of the review]