GET OUT [Spoilers]: when a girl takes her new boyfriend home to meet her family, he gets way more than he bargained for. As a white metropolitan elite male, and part of the liberal media (a blog counts, right?) the moments of sleight racism, underhand stereotypes, and low-key comments about ‘form’, ‘structure’, ‘genetics’, etc were the hardest bits to watch. The strongest aspect about this film is that it skillfully uses the ‘language’ of horror cinema (jumps, isolation, string score) to emphasize the uneasy and odd parts of the plot. Even white people talking normally about Tiger Woods, Jessie Owens, and Obama sounds creepier through the ‘horror’ lens. The final 10 minutes see a major tone shift into exploitation & schlocky B-movie cheese, with some crowd pleasing gore – although it does feel like it’s been heaped on for good measure – a highlight being a ‘reverse American History X headstomp’ homage. There’s a few other missteps like the ‘gentrified’ help coming over more “robotic” than ‘transplanted’, and the TSA agent friend is purely in there for some cheap comic relief. The best thing about Get Out is that everything mentioned in the first half fits together perfectly for the reveal and finale; however, the flip side of that is that there’s no subtlety, and you get pushed down a particular path, which the film sticks religiously to; which feels too straightforward in a time where you expect more from top-drawer horror.
Captain Phillips (Mild Spoilers): the Maersk Alamaba cargo ship gets hijacked by four AK-47 wielding Somali pirates whilst navigating ‘round the dangerous ‘Horn of Africa’. I can never tell if Tom Hanks is really good, or really samey (in the same way that Tom Cruise is always Tom Cruise) – although the only dodgy part of this performance was his accent. Unfortunately the film peaks too early, in the nerve-shredding boat boarding set piece, which even the big finale doesn’t live up to. Like most films at the moment, it’s a little flabbier than it needed to be, out-staying its welcome, with a hyper-extended finale in the cramped lifeboat, in which Greengrass slowly loses his grip on the audience. Also, if you know anything about legendary sniper shots, you’ll know how the film ends before you step in to the cinema, which is a bummer! All-in-all, a solid film – but note quite Oscar worthy.
8mm: A private investigator is hired to authenticate or debunk a snuff film found by an eccentric millionaire’s widow. The headline here is a shocking display of anti-acting by Cage – could easily be in his bottom 5 performances (and that’s saying something) – totally woeful – especially when he loses his shit near the end Gandalfini steals the show with his ‘here’s what happened’ scene, and Phoenix plays a stereotype deviant well enough. So you’re thinking ‘Cage is rubbish, but at least the story’s alright…’ then the last hour happens. What the shit is the end of this film about; why does some guy have a crossbow? Why is Cage going vigilante? Why burn a stack of Porn? Rainy Mud fight? DANZIG?… everything is turned up to 11, or 20. It reeks of all the good 90s thrillers, but feels like a TV movie. 8mm is one of those films that everyone remembers being decent, but when replayed, is absolutely terrible. While the subject matter is intriguing, this film’s far too bizarre for most people to enjoy. Would recommend Tesis and Hardcore over this. Shame on Schu-macher!
Hamlet 2: a melodramatic drama teacher has to inspire a bunch of underachieving Latinos to turn his sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a successful production and save his department. There are a few funny parts, but the play at the end is the only real winner. The rest of the laughs stem from shock value: ‘face rape’, Christian-bashing, gay jokes and a lot of Steve Coogan’s ass – probably won’t help you break America Steve! The main song ‘Rock me sexy Jesus’ is totally catchy, but could have been better. The story plods along quite predictably and is a jumble of Dangerous Minds, Summer Heights High and Jerry Springer the Opera. With Pam Brady’s track record on South Park BLU, Team America and Hot Rod (not to mention the likes of Catherine Keener Amy Poehler, David Arquette and comic genius Steve Coogan) you expect a bit more from this.