Archives for posts with tag: violence

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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.

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]