Archive for the ‘Rating – 2 Stars’ category

Ouija (White, 2014)



Scary opening albeit horror cliche extravaganza (like a 2 sec “ohhh” to remind us that she’s scared and the dusty old doll found in an attic). Movie has decent teen victim perfs esp the UK’s Ovilia Cooke.  Most of the death scenes are effective but completely derivative.  Horrible score.  Barely makes it above water after complete indulgence in said cliches.

** / *****

Vampires Suck (Friedberg and Seltzer, 2010)



Now I am losing all credibility I might have gained from this site and others after giving your favorite film Home Alone (1990) 0 stars out 5 stars.  Vampires Suck is a 2010 vampire spoof film based on the Twilight film series[3] and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Vampires Suck’s most important find is Jenn Proske – resume:  The Groundlings and BFA Theatre Arts Cum Laude Boston University School of Theatre – a Canadian actress with a career ahead of her I think.  It’s so bad it’s good so that I find (found) myself laughing at this in an Airport! sort of way.

** / *****

Surrogates (Jonathan Mostow, 2009)


Surrogates presents some good ideas surrounding the concept of culture’s continuing interest in anonymity through technological advances in alter egos sans Facebook, Twitter, Chatroulette, etal.  A surrogate is a beautiful “robot” that takes the place of the real human and lives his life with the supposed benefits of being young and attractive.  Unfortunately the film is bogged down in its genre’s most annoying cliches.  As an example ONE fat guy / uber geek non surrogate (whose is of course, proud of his overweight, real presence) singularly controls surrogate surrvellience for the entire city of New York.  Make sense?  No.  Then we are lead to believe that the makers of this technology have advanced it to the point where the entire developed world is dominated by these alter egos whilest the owners of the surrogates sit in futuristic portal chairs in their dirty and unkept apartments and pop psychotropic pills during those unfortunate times that they exist without their golden doubles.  Ill equipped rebel groups (living in ridiculously conceived “ghettos” in the middle of New York) exist that may or may not want to bring the surrogates down in place of their better selves.   In better hands (perhaps Kubrick, who’s ideas from A. I. permeate ham handedly throughout), the cliches could have been avoided.  The redeeming factor in this movie is Bruce Willis and his very understated and believable performance.   Add to the performance list Rosamund Pike (Willis’ wife also seen in the excellent An Education) in another impressive performance who inhabits her surrogate with a complexity not found elsewhere in the film.

** / *****

Whatever Works (Woody Allen, 2009)


This one doesn’t work so well.  It does get a bit better with the arrival of Patricia Clarkson but its so inferior to the better of Woody’s more recent romcoms – Vicky Christina Barcelona, Melinda and Melinda and Mighty Aphrodite.  The mishmash of romantic entanglements never makes sense and the ham-handed portrayal of his southern characters is very pretentious especially, after five minutes of dialogue, they mutate into New York sophisticates.  Also, I was pretty disappointed with the performance of Evan Rachel Wood.

** / *****

The Postman Always Rings Twice (Bob Rafelson, 1981)


The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)f1ae1

[spoiler alert]

Pulp crime picture reuniting Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) yet again.  A surprising mix of sex and violence pairs up two losers, Frank Chambers (Nicholson) and Cora Papadakis (Jessica Lange) who plot to and eventually kill Cora’s husband Nick (John Colicos).  They initially get off through a tenuous, at best, courtroom drama segment involving corrupt lawyers and insurance executives.

The early rape scenes are quite a shock and the sexual violence continues throughout the film.  It’s a tough watch not only for the aforementioned scenes but also for the general corrupt nature of both the leads and most of the supporting characters in the film – there is not much goodness to be found here.  Gorgeous Lange turns in a notable performance but its implausible that she could have married this Nick, a short, balding, drunken goon.  The film is full of tragedy and all in all it’s a big downer.  The costume design is impressive but the set design looks like made for television.  David Mamet adapted the screenplay from the novel by James N. Cain.  I felt the heat but I longed for cool air.

** / *****

The Strangers (Bryan Bertino, 2008)



Crack, craSHH, scream, click.  Good sound design.  Is that it?  About it.  Not sure if this was some Funny Games copy gone awry or an honest attempt at box office penetration, or both.  The first act is really cool, the relationship stuff and how the plot points are delivered in a kind of choppy flash forward / flash back / etc way that works.  Yet after that the pic deteriorates into the genre norm minute by minute, cut by cut.

Lord, I gotta say one thing – Liv Tyler has never looked more beautiful on film and plays a great damsel in distress.

Round the end we get to see hints at the true identities of the intruders.  By that time I was bored and looking at the clock.  Effective thriller for the middle-expectation filmgoer thrill seeker.

** / *****

Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute, 2008)



Your run of the mill thriller with few surprises.  The material is so dated that it comes off as a training manual in how to make a thriller about race relations.  Its not poorly done at all and a few sequences are surprisingly funny (the chainsaw scene).  The oncoming fires are a silly but somewhat effective device as the tension builds.  But overall, I was pretty bored.  Nice score.

** / *****