Monthly Archives: June 2010

Review: Micmacs

micmacs one sheetJean-Pierre Jeunet hasn’t directed many films, but they’ve all been terrific, distinctive, and stylish. Two you’ll hopefully have enjoyed already are The City of Lost Children and the weird Amélie. With Micmacs (original title Micmacs à tire-larigot) Jeunet moves into comedy with his signature quirkiness and the result is delightful and hilarious.

The story revolves around misfit Bazil (an appealingly simple Dany Boon), who grows up in a wealthy, but fatherless house: his father has been killed while trying to defuse a landmine. Bazil is somewhat of a slacker who happily wiles away the hours of his life working in a video rental shop in Paris. One night a car chase and shootout transpires in front of the shop and through happenchance he ends up with a bullet lodged in the front of his brain.
As the surgeon explains to the nurses in the operating room in a wryly amusing scene, “If we operate, he could die. If we don’t, it could go “boom!” at any moment and kill him.” They resolve the dilemma in a startling manner and Bazil gradually recovers, just to find he is homeless and without work.
Bazil meets up with a troop of fellow misfits, discarded people who scrape a living out of salvaging discarded items and reassembling them to be useful and interesting. The theme of the film, it’s simultaneously powerful and a terrific launching pad for lots of comic situations. Bazil eventually wreaks his revenge on the two corporations that were responsible for the land mine that killed his father and the bullet lodged in his skull in a complex series of cons and tricks reminiscent of The Italian Job and House of Games.
Micmacs is a delightful, witty, engaging film that I’ll highly recommend, one of my favorite movies of 2010 to date!

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Review: The A-Team

the a team one sheet

There are some movies that are good date films but are really “guy films”, then there are guy films that are really just for men and would most likely go down in the annals of bad dates if you, a guy, were to bring a gal with you. Yeah, that’s sexist, but think of The A-Team as the guy version of Sex and the City 2 and you’ll understand what I mean.
Based on the 1980s TV series of the same name, The A-Team starts with a backstory that explains how the team was formed by a group of former Army Rangers during a crazy adventure in Mexico. 80 successful missions later, they’re tricked into a new mission that involves stolen US Mint plates that need to be recovered before a flood of counterfeit $100s destroy the American economy.
The team fails at its mission, is framed and each A-Team member is subsequently thrown in separate high security prisons scattered throughout the Western hemisphere. No worries, they break out through an unlikely sequence of events and have the dual task of recovering the stolen plates and clearing their names.
Or, at least, the plot seems to be something like that, but this is the kind of film where it’s really not much about the story line at all, and somehow, that’s okay. The film is still entertaining and the cast (Liam Neeson as Hannibal, the group leader, Bradley Cooper as Face, the handsome woman-crazy group member, Quinton Jackson as tough guy B.A. Baracus, a role made famous by Mr. T. in the original series, and District 9 standout Sharlto Copley as the crazy Murdock) works well and has an appealing chemistry even as the scenes often make no sense.

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Review: Splice

splice one sheetHorror films are supposed to be scary and fill you with foreboding, fear and then the elation of the protagonist having survived a frightening situation. A good horror film is an adrenaline rush, an emotional roller coaster that can be surprisingly fun.

Unfortunately, Splice is none of these things, and when you finally get to the scary scene, it’s about ten minutes from the end of the film, after a build-up that left me bored and had most of the audience laughing at what were supposed to be the tense scenes.
The fundamental problem with Splice is that the three writers, Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor, couldn’t decide if they were creating a thoughtful docu-drama about the ethical dilemma posed by genetic manipulation or a straight-out horror film, and instead created a film that’s boring and unfocused, with two of the stupidest “scientist” roles ever committed to screen.
Splice takes place in the R&D facility of Newstead Pharma, run by cliché money-grubbing CEO Joan Chorot (Simona Maicanescu in a startlingly bad performance). The genetic engineering lab, known as Nucleic Exchange Research & Development, is run by husband and wife couple Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) and also employs Clive’s brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon), a character who seemed like he should have been cast in the next Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure instead.

They’re doing genetic splicing to create creatures that can produce medicinal proteins that will be worth billions and Elsa wants to add human DNA to the stew to work towards cures for altzheimers, cancer, and a laundry list of other ailments. The result is a weird quasi-human called Dren (played, with some CG assist, by Delphine Chanéac).
The result is that Splice is an unfrightening mess of a film that could have been a thoughtful exploration of the moral and ethical dilemmas associated with genetic manipulation or could have been a “look what we’ve unleashed on the world!” film in the mold of Frankenstein, but instead it’s neither and ends up a slick looking but pointless cinematic experience. 

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