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R-Point

I’m convinced there’s a good war-themed horror out there somewhere. What started out as a general disappointment with Michael Mann’s The Keep has taken me through The Bunker (awful) and Deathwatch (starts out promising, quickly turns awful). From reading IMDB’s message boards, I thought Kong Su-Chang’s R-Point would answer my prayers.

It tells the story of a squad of Korean soldiers in the Vietnam war sent to investigate radio transmissions coming from a group of soldiers thought to have been killed six months previously. Which is the same setup as Deathwatch. And that’s the problem. Using the plot of Deathwatch as a foundation, R-Point tries to blend a mixture of Platoon, Apocalypse Now, The Blair Witch Project and The Shining, even going so far as to visually name-check some of these films. And among all these heavyweights, the few original things the filmmakers bring seem quite tame and undercooked.

On paper, it’s a recipe for magic: war-themed horror mixed with the nerve-shattering tension that Asian filmmakers seem able to tap into so well. In reality, R-Point is a disappointing anti-climax. Oh well, i still have high hopes for Worst Case Scenario

Shattered Glass →

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Good Night, and Good Luck →

For me, Good Night, and Good Luck fell squarely into the same genre as Downfall: an important movie, but not necessarily a good movie. It ticks a lot of boxes and zipped along at a fair pace but never really engaged me any better than a documentary on the same subject could have. In fact, the chapter about the Murrow/McCarthy feud in John S. Friedman’s The Secret Histories did a better job of providing a context for the broadcasts than Clooney’s film and remains, for me, more entertaining.

Although perhaps that’s because I wasn’t being forced to chew down some paper-thin character development for paper-thin characters. I don’t know.

Walk the Line →

As a promotional tool to shift a boadload of Johnny Cash albums, it’s fantastic.

As a way of giving casual fans a context to the songs they’re listening to (even if that context is clearly exaggerated), it’s pretty good.

As an entertaining movie, it’s a load of my hole.

Final Destination 3 →

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Jarhead →

As a film, Jarhead was as schizophrenic as the marine mentality it tried to convey. It swung wildly between occasional bursts of brilliant writing into lazy references to other war movies (oh yes, Apocolypse Now and the Deer Hunter, we get it). Sometime beautiful cinematography gave way to murky, uninspired, cliched imagery. Following the same template as countless movies before it, yet structurally, it was a complete mess.

But perhaps this is part of the point it’s trying to make and it’s done so subtlely as to be barely noticable. I’d like to think so, really I would. But the clunky, heavy-handed way in which it tried to make its other points leads me to believe that the word ‘subtle’ does not exist for these filmmakers.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe →

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Mad Hot Ballroom

I didn’t want to like this movie. Fifteen minutes in and I had made up my mind that this was just Spellbound meets The School Around the Corner by way of Come Dancing and I was too old and too cynical to be taken in by such a cheap ploy.

But then, around the thirty minute mark, something remarkable happened. These kids stopped being precocious little brats and started becoming likeable creatures. Watching Cyrus' reaction to the results of the initial competition sealed the deal for me. Believe me when I say that we need to watch this kid closely because he is wise beyond his 10 years and almost certainly an evil genius in the making (the director says that when she first met him and discussed her movie with him, he asked if she had secured a production deal yet).

Against my will, I had become emotionally invested in these kids. Their different personalities began to shine through and, by the time of the dancing final, I felt like I was joinging their teachers on the emotional rollercoaster they were riding. And the swell of pride I began to feel watching the kids put in some amazing performances was almost embarassing. It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.

Funny without lacking sincerity, sentimental without being po-faced. In spite of myself, I ended up liking this movie.

Dammit.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

My girlfriend tells me that the reason she rarely wants to go to the cinema any more is because she’s become disillusioned with movies. This comes from sitting through the near-endless amount of dirge on show this summer. And you don’t register a domain like “low brow culture dot com” without being a fan of dirge, so I’m almost certainly to blame.

Apart from being extremely entertaining, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang assures us that there are people working in Hollywood with a genuine love for what they do. Shane Black has done an incredible job of creating something that will appeal to everyone: guns and car chases for the people that like that kind of thing, genuinely sharp and witty dialogue and a complex plot for the people who like that kind of thing.

And lots of beautiful people for the people who don’t like either of those things (including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her appearance by the girl every guy I know has a crush on, Shannyn Sossamon).

My vote for film of the year.

Further reading: Shane Black is a terrific screenwriter. For examples of this, you should check out his screenplays for Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight. But the piece of resistance is his screenplay for The Last Boy Scout, which contains the following:

INT. DINGY DRESSING ROOM - NIGHT > > Cory and Jimmy are engaged in very hot sex. > This is not a love scene; this is a sex scene. > Sigh. I'm not even going to attempt to write this > quote-unquote "steamy" scene here, for several good > reasons: > A) The things that I find steamy are none of your damn > business, Jack, in addition to which -- > B) The two actors involved will no doubt have wonderful, > highly athletic ideas which manage to elude most > fat-assed writers anyhow, and finally -- > C) My mother reads this shit. So there. > (P.S.: I think we lost her back at the Jacuzzi blowjob > scene.) > >