Sunday, December 28, 2008


When a film as unexpectedly brilliant as Revolutionary Road comes along, it makes sitting through utter mince like The Wackness, Bottle Shock, Blindness et al. seem a LOT more tolerable.

Revolutionary Road (*****)
if you've got the emotional fortitude and courage to witness happen - right before your eyes - the tragic unravelling of a marriage and the shared dreams within, then don't dare miss out on this; universally compelling performances and the highest production values, along with Mendes' fine eye for detail, all combine to make this moving, nay devastating, film a timeless classic

The Wackness (*)
dreary dreary rubbish: firstly, there's the insanely annoying and intrusive soundtrack - not that the music's that bad, but that it just will not stop and is such a blatant lazy device for keeping it all 'real'; secondly, the goofball philosophy and chump lifestyle/relationship advice that is flung around for fun; thirdly, Kingsley acts like a prize ham, and the rest of the cast is just plain weak

In The Electric Mist (*)
turgid beyond belief - even when you can make out the occasional word that Tommy Lee Jones mumbles

Bottle Shock (*)
based on a genuinely interesting true story but totally undermined by the Dukes Of Hazzard caricaturing and xenophobic undercurrents - it's actually put me off drinking Californian wine

Lakeview Terrace (**)
Jackson's screen presence is captivating and the photography is unusually pleasing, but that aside and despite superficial references to social issues, this is a bog-standard neighbour-from-hell thriller with uniformly unlikeable characters and an overblown ending as inevitable as it's possible to get; for the relevant social commentary, refer to Cassavetes' 1959 classic Shadows

Religulous (*****)
Larry Charles' follow-up to the outrageous Borat sees Bill Maher travelling the globe meeting religious zealots of all flavours: far-removed from say Dawkins' creepy intellectual machismo, Maher is always likeably funny, smart, and hits a lot of targets; of course, he's preaching mostly to us converted, yet the bit about America's founding fathers was, to me, a real revelation (pun already regretted); and what is for the most part 90 minutes of fast-paced scary laughs culminates in a heartfelt and surprisingly moving monologue; it's also noteworthy that questioning the historicity of Jesus is beginning to enter mainstream debate

Blindness (*)
damn, another couple of hours of my life down the pan - 3rd rate sci-fi exploitation movie dressed up as social allegory, where the allegory is pretentious and simplistic, and the exploitation totally unfulfilling - think 28 Days Later, except even worse than that particular gubbins was; it doesn't help that Julianne Moore, in the central role as survivor of the blindness epidemic, is such a deeply unappealing woman


David Waterston said...

Having read 'Revolutionary Road' many times the thought of the Titanic Two starring in the movie filled me with dread but your review is spot on - this is an almost flawless adaptation of Yates' novel and undoubtedly destined to become a classic.

David Cotner said...

Very interested in what you thought of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

SYpHA_69 said...

Not to mention "Marley and Me"!

I kind of liked "28 Days Later", though it may of owed more to the fact that I'm a Cillian Murphy fan. Never even saw "28 Weeks Later" however.

David Cotner said...

Speaking of Cillian Murphy, he starred with Lucy Liu last year in a severely underrated film, "Watching the Detectives." Sweet little love story about a free spirit and the video store owner who falls in love with her. No clue as to why it dropped off the radar so swiftly and surely.

Nick said...

They really did squeeze in as many golden era hip hop tracks as they could through out The Wackness, didn't they? :)

I really want to see Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, looks great.

William Bennett said...

yes, am looking forward to seeing The Wrestler, Benjamin Button (and maybe even Marley And Me!)

Richard Molyneux said...

Recent ones that I have seen

The Wrestler - 4/5 A fanatastic movie, easily the best thing that Darren Aronofsky has done. Mickey Rouke is great. His disasterous face held me spellbound.

Chasing Ghosts - Beyond the Arcade 3/5. If you liked King of Kong you will love this.

Pride & Glory 1/5. Horrible movie

sm88 said...

I was surprised that you enjoyed Religulous so much, particularly after the posts you made concerning Dawkins since it seems like Maher takes a similar approach in his attitude towards religion, though he certainly takes a less intellectual approach. I personally thought it was mediocre. It didn't change the way I thought about religion, it just showed me a few nuts that I hadn't seen yet. The Christian theme park in Florida was particularly sickening and it perfectly encapsulated my view of American Christianity. I think it would've been more entertaining if Maher hadn't postured as though he were trying to make some kind of comprehensive argument against Christianity (something he makes no real attempt to do although he talks about it) and instead focused on making the funniest, most entertaining film possible. Also, I was wondering what your thoughts on Christopher Hitchens were. I recently saw him in a debate at my college and it was fascinating.

William Bennett said...

thanks, sm88 - personally, I liked it for many of the same reasons I liked Borat (i.e. the 'nuts' were exquisitely well-chosen, and the editing was fiendishly manipulative!); yet beyond the chuckles, it also had resonance - I don't see Maher as fighting a Brave New World crusade for '(Darwinian) science' like Dawkins does - his underlying thrust seemed to be twofold: firstly, suggesting a place of doubt as preferable to blind faith; and secondly, that with an impending apocalypse such a common element of religious belief systems, in an age where we have the technology the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling

Hitchens is certainly thought-provoking - did particularly enjoy his Mother Theresa exposé; what was he debating at your college?

sm88 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sm88 said...

The debate was a broad one on the existence of a God, though Hitchens focuses on the negative impact that religion has on society, its frequent use as a device to control and suppress individual liberty, as well as pointing out issues where the Catholic Church has challenged its own infallibility. Actually I just found the entire thing on the internet if you or anyone else is interested in watching. Here's the link: Enjoy.