Catfight: after losing touch in college former friends – a struggling artist and a trophy wife – become bitter rivals, and find their lives changing dramatically at the hands of each other. This is an interesting film in that it’s the type of movie that doesn’t really get made anymore. It feels like something from the early 2000s: quirky and eccentric “Woody Allen style” New York caricatures coming together in a semi-absurd plot that could have come from someone like Todd Solondz or Larry David. It’s also refreshing in that you don’t often get to see female actors in this age bracket lead a movie. Both Sandra Oh and Anne Heche get to chance to showcase their fine acting chops – playing irritating characters, but making the most of the comedy in the script through their respective stereotypes. The film’s performances complement Tukel’s unique directorial voice and style, although his ability to craft and capture so many deadpan scenes, wry cameos, and absurd lines is what shines the brightest – this absolutely smashed through the six-laugh test. Where the movie fell down for me was that it took a lot of swipes in the background at American culture, the U.S. government, foreign wars, inequality, topical Television shows, etc… This felt like easy – even lazy – targets for a film with this much promise and talent, and distracted from the central rivalry. The three prolonged ‘slobber-knocker’ fights also push the film momentarily from comedy & satire into a cartoonish farce: the hits are too big, with ‘wooshing’ & ‘crunching’ sound effects that become ridiculous, and the sequences feel much longer than they needed to be – although the film is called Catfight…. Catfight feels genuinely refreshing – coming through in an time where the majority of movies feel more like ‘safe investments’ designed by committee, that actively avoid taking any risks. This feels unique, original, fresh, and although it doesn’t land every punch, it’s is more than funny enough to remain entertaining for the duration.
Tekken: after WWIII the megacorporation Tekken controls what was once North America, and is staging it’s annual ‘Iron Fist’ tournament. Obviously, for a film like this, actors are cast for their athletic looks over their talent – which leads to some god-awful line delivery from most people, but hey, at least they look very similar to their pixelated counterparts. The set-up is fairly good for this type of film, integrating a lot of detail from the game series. What drives Tekken is the action, and this film knows its audience, assigning about 2/3 of the runtime to 1 on 1 fights from the games, death-matches, or other action scenes. Despite being nothing new to the genre, Tekken is more watchable than most computer game conversions – and as good as any average cyberpunk / dystopian future movie.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: the IMF’s best agent Ethan Hunt is back again; his team go off the grid as they’re blamed for bombing the Kremlin – they must also stop an unfolding global Nuclear War – instigated by a madman! This film sticks to what the franchise does best; action and tension. The tension is wrung out and maximised like a boss; the Kremlin corridor and double-meeting in particular are proper edge-of-your-seat scenes. The action is also well above par, bone-crunching fist-fights and well-handled/edited camera work (other than the sloppy sandstorm chase). This story is typical of the other three films, with more newfangled espionage in various hyper-photogenic locations. Pegg comes out on top of the cast, providing a bit more comic relief than usual, but avoids becoming the clown – everyone else is solid. There’s some awesome gadgets and technical details for your inner-geek, the fastest-booting servers in the world and an onslaught of Apple products. On the downside, it definitely needed more Ving Rhames quips & ass-kicking, and Nyqvist as the ‘main’ bad guy could have done with more screen time and evil development. M:I-4 is another slick instalment of the winning James Bond formula cranked up to 11.
Jennifer’s Body [Blu Ray]: when a slew of horrific murders hit a sleepy town, Needy starts to think her best friend is a blood-thirsty vampyre. On the surface this appears to exists as a Megan Fox bootay appreciation vehicle, which is fine by me, especially because she plays a sexy femme fatale – with some brilliantly lewd lines. Fortunately, there’s more here than just foxy Fox. The film is laced with a good dose of black humour and absurdity; just enough to confirm that it’s not taking itself too seriously – 8675309 / Goths at a Funeral / Emo band story arc etc. It’s also ‘teen horror’ to the core: with an emphasis on ‘hip’ music, high school setting, sexually charged ‘teens’, pop cultural references, slang vocabulary… right down to the Prom Night finale. The direction’s strong, and BD picture and audio quality are both very good – also the directors cut is apparently far superior to the theatrical version. I was more than surprised as I watched this with a constant smile, and some proper belly laughs; it’s one of the best in its genre since the likes of the Faculty and Idle Hands. After its initially poor cinematic reception Jennifer’s Body will hopefully shine a lot brighter on DVD/Blu Ray as it’s far better, runnier, sexier, more violent and smarter than it looks, and you’d expect.
Zombie Beach Party: aka (Zombie King and the Legion of Doom aka Enter… Zombie King) A troupe of masked wrestlers tag up to fight off a powerful arch enemy and his army of the undead before they take over the town! The good stuff: nice Inter-title cards introducing the main cast at the start, some pretty good and fun exhibition wrestling fights, super-rapid Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart cameo (as the sheriff). The bad stuff: more so than most b-movies there’s pretty much no acting (face or voice) as all the main characters wear masks, the night scenes are terrible due to bad lighting, poor quality film stock, on top of all the usual B-movie gaffes. The film tried to be a parody of the zombie genre and a homage to wrestling – it does both, but neither particularly well, not to mention there’s almost no zombie action! At the end of the day this ring-slid well underneath my bottom rope expectation!! Wrestlemaniac was way better, and that’s saying somehting!
Obsessed: a married guy gets harassed by an increasingly obsessive woman until it gets out of hand… I’ve genuinely seen porno films with better acting, music, direction and even story. And no – I haven’t mixed this up with Fatal Attraction. Idris Elba lapsed in and out of good acting without warning. The crazy secretary (Ali Larter) was awful, but couldn’t really do much with her paper-thin character. Beyonce, meh, just there for the end really… and stick to singing love. Whether it was the budget of a massive case of ‘can’t be assed’ this looks & feels like a directorial debut – not someone that’s been behind the camera since 1995 (!) on projects such as Deadwood (!!), The Good Wife (!!!), The Sopranos (!!!!) and The Wire (!WTF!). Inexcusable acting, story and a spectacular f-up on the part of everyone’s agent. Tour De Fail.
Candy Strippers: A gherkin-looking membrane transfers and infects female hospital workers through kissing, turning them into seductive murderers… nothing to do with pole-dancers; I want my money back! Definitely bags the ‘Misleading title of the year’ award. It’s refreshing only having infected female killers for a change, but that’s where the originality ends. The last 40 minutes is just 20-somethings carelessly running around a hospital getting chopped up one by one. The last 10 ten minutes is a ludicrous needle-fest. Generally skipped through all the ‘plot building’ after the 20 minute mark. Nothing groundbreaking here: lame ‘monster’, average gore, terrible gags, unfathomably hot females, some gratuitous boobs and dumb people doing dumb things.