Friday, April 09, 2010

1st April 2010 - Kick Ass

Critics are knocking each other over to flout how much they like this film, probably in order to show how cool and in touch with modern culture they are by not being offended at a little girl who swears and kills people. Not like anyone stuffy enough to dislike the film. They’re losers. We’re not. Love us.

Trouble is, the build-up of media Lick-Ass can only end up triggering an “it’s not that good” backlash sooner or later. Which will be a shame as this is a fun film, with the smart premise of a superhero story set in the real world. Average teenage comic-fan Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) buys a crap suit and some sticks, and sets out to be Kick Ass. His only skill is a plucky determination. He gets beaten up quite a lot.

Stealing the show is the kid making all the critics quiver, little Hit Girl (an outstanding Chloe Mortez), the 12 year-old brought up by her bonkers daddy to be a lean, teeny killing machine. Said daddy became the highlight, played by Nicolas Cage channeling Adam West in a crap Batman suit. He is absurdity and hilarity rolled into one, with some gigantic teeth and a silly hair do. There are many componenets here that could create utter dirge along the lines of Daredevil or Batman & Robin, but Kick Ass has the right mix of tongue-in-cheek and seriousness to pull it off.

Nerd comedy (ala Superbad) mixes with uber violence (ala Kill Bill – well, all the films Kill Bill riffs off), with big nods to Raimi’s Spider-man and comic book name-checks sprinkled throughout. Superhero conventions are played to, then deliberately broken, leaving you with a fresh feeling of not really knowing what’s going to happen next. A slice of real darkness adds jeaopardy to the proceedings, and Mark Strong brings a fun villain in the form of a mob boss, with a wimpy son played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (no doubt now type-cast as McLovin’ for the rest of his career).

But Kick Ass sometimes has a whiff of familiarity, be it through the soundtrack (an odd choice to reuse a 28 Days Later track for a blistering fight scene, making it feel more wannabe than fresh newcomer), the uber violent school girl (Gogo Yubari wearing the same tartan skirt in Kill Bill) or the general nods to the superhero franchises that have already dominated our screens, some pretty damn successfully. Whether they’re deliberate or not, these feelings of de ja vu hamper the film’s efforts to find a unique voice. It’s a shame the spirit of originality doesn’t cover all bases.

Still, Kick Ass is a lively, surprising, funny and enjoyable film - a welcome breath of fun after the seriousness of Watchmen and Dark Knight. Whether the freshness will last for a sequel (no doubt in the works) is another story. Nic Cage makes this film worth the watch, Chloe Mortez a close second for dazzling confidence. Kick Ass scores a CF2, kicking 2010 ass with the highest score so far.

The 2010 catch up

Ok, Ok. My head is hung in shame at the actions so far of 2010. Mainly because there have been no actions. We’re on week 14 and I’ve only seen 7 films. That’s 50% effort, and what’s worse I haven’t even posted reviews. Just think of the dozens of people out there with no Cinemafool guidance, stumbling into films with no idea of their CF rating. The pressure of such responsbility is almost too much to bear. But give me some slack, Cinemafool has existed for 4 years now. I needed a break.

Break over.

Ok, 5 of those 7 pesky films shall be summed up for your perusal in a series of minifools, mainly because I saw them so long ago my aged brain can't remember enough detail to fill a review. Here they are:

Sherlock Holmes

As I’ve already said: RDJ is predictably enjoyable playing himself with an English accent, the direction is predictably Ritchie with a lot more money. Film is fun, got a bit sleepy in the middle, and not quite the excitement the trailers promised. Ok, though. Just Ok.

Can’t say much more than that, really. CF0.

The Road

A heart-warming family drama....

Putting the “eak” in “bleak”, this takes Cormac McCarthy’s post apocalyptic tale of grim survival and transfers it to screen in all its distressing glory. Viggo Mortenson is obviously brilliant, and the only side-steps from the book are almost gratefully received, as to stick too closely to the details would no doubt elicit mass suicide. Not exactly a breeze to watch, but gripping, moving and everything it means to be. CF1, and no higher only because it loses the rewatch factor due to being crushingly horrible to absorb.

Solomon Kane

What could have been a snowy swordy epic is more of a damp rag as James Purefoy mooches around behind floppy hair, rarely takes off his clothes and signs up to a no-violence lifestyle after the devil tries to claim his soul. When the gloves do come off (“I will not fight you, I... oh Ok, hi-ya!”) the heads come off too and there are some fun slice and dice moments. But clunky editing and taking itself too seriously hamper any chance of overcoming the sizeable problems of trying to do sword fights and mystic monster stuff when numerous films have already done it much much better. A disappointing CF-1.

Alice in Wonderland

Like Blackpool illuminations, the magic of what appears to be a visual feast is quickly quashed once you peer past the distracting lights and see it for what it really is. Burton delivers another spectacle that deserves praise for style and technique, but flops at the important stuff like depth or heart. Depp’s flamboyance is fun, but expected. Despite all the giant heads and talking mice, Burton manages to do nothing surprising with the material. And the addition of 3D adds another headache in what is becoming quite an irritating new trend. Points for visuals only, this sits at a CF0.

Green Zone

Greengrass and Damon put Bourne into Iraq, marching around after those illustrious WMDs and generally causing trouble. Except, it’s not really Bourne of course, just a looky-likey and figurehead for a statement film. Damon is solid but a bit inconsequential, the action is fast and furious and the plot is worryingly plausible. Some exciting chases aside, the fact I can’t remember much more about the film suggests its impact is somewhat insubstantial. As such, Green Zone gets CF0.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2nd Jan 2010 - Sherlock Holmes


RDJ is predictably enjoyable playing himself with an English accent, the direction is predictably Ritchie with a lot more money. Film is fun, got a bit sleepy in the middle, and not quite the excitement the trailers promised. Ok, though. Just Ok.

Introducing Minifool

Last year there was an unacceptable delay between watching a film and posting a review. I admit it. This year there might still be such a delay, but at least there now will be Minifool, your quick paragraph review to keep you going until the real thing comes along.

I don't think it needs any more explanation than that. If you think it does, you're obviously too stupid to be reading this site, and you should probably leave now.


Friday, January 01, 2010

The Cinemafool review of 2009

First, an apology. Cinemafool has been running now for three years and always prides itself on seeing a new film at the cinema pretty much every week, then delivering a stunning review. Recently, due to personal movements (not bowel), it has become more difficult for Cinemafool to visit the cinema as often as desired. And so the year has seen a shocking lack of new films at the cinema – only 40 - and an even more shocking delay for reviews. For this poor performance I can only apologise. But what are you going to do? How about pay me and I’ll make more of an effort. Otherwise you’ll just have to make do with what you get.

Anyway, 2009 has been a year. Indeed. And the best way to celebrate that year is by the now famous Cinemafool review. First up, the anticipated top ten of 2009. Here they are, in chronological order:

Top Ten

1. Doubt

Rating: CF2

What: Fiddler or no fiddler? Priest vs Nuns. A couple of alternative titles also summing up the film.

I said then: a fully enjoyable film, with superb performances and a simple yet completely effective plot.

I say now: Big weighty paedo films never come so entertaining. Way more enjoyable than you’d at first think, Doubt is a rare stage-to-screen adap that works.

I also said: an altar boy’s holy vestibule.

2. Watchmen

Rating: CF3

What: “The best graphic novel ever” made into “the best graphic novel film adaptation ever”.

I said then: a mature and complex plot, twisted and intriguing characters, wowing visual punch and a kick-ass soundtrack

I say now: Proving there is still life in the stylised comic book genre, this was both mature and oh so very cool.

I also said: a big glowing blue-man’s schlong

3. Religulous

Rating: CF3

What: Bill Maher tackles the insanity of religion in a compelling documentary.

I said then: makes you wish this film was made available to a wider audience rather than a small cinema screen full of guffawing pretentioles like me.

I say now: as the athiests start to gather forces in billboard, buses and books, this is the documentary that is both oh so very relevant, but also very, very amusing.

I also said: interviewing mentals for laughs

4. Let the Right One In

Rating: CF3

What: Children, vampires, Sweden. What more do you need?

I said then: captivating, beautiful and slightly disconcerting.

I say now: An icy overcoat covering a warm heart, this is a welcome take on the now overblown Vampire genre.

I also said: how I imagine Angel rip-off Twilight to be, if the characters were 12 year old Swedish kids

5. In the Loop

Rating: CF2

What: Armando Iannucci’s cutting tv show turned to the big screen, joined by American friends.

I said then: In the Loop is a proud example of Britain’s writing talent, and a withering reminder of how crap politics can be

I say now: The dialogue is so swift and so delicious you’ll need to see this more than once just to gather all the barbs. Ace stuff.

I also said: the best angry-breathing ever.

6. Star Trek

Rating: CF3

What: A genre that’s usually partly ace and partly tosh, given a J J Abrams makeover.

I said then: Abrams blasts the Trek into the realms of the popular, making a show that many shy away from or turn their noses up at into something any uninitiated Trekster can actually enjoy.

I say now: Something for the fans and a fun trip for everyone else, Abrams proved there was still a lot of life in the Trek.

I also said: A bit like the Jonas Brothers.

7. Moon

Rating: CF3

What: Bowie Junior directs a sci-fi indie, pretty much a one-man show too. Sort of.

I said then: a charming little film, beautifully handled by Jones and superbly acted by Rockwell.

I say now: If you’ve still not seen this, avoid other reviews that spoil the plot and check it out. The understated sci-fi sister to boisterous Star Trek.

I also said: Cinemafool reviews are more considerate and, let’s face it, better.

8. Mesrine: parts 1 & 2

Rating: CF2 & CF1

What: A bit of a cheat to squish two films into one spot, but this French biog of a criminal superstar comes as a pair, and I couldn’t leave one out. It’d get jealous.

I said then: a lengthy study of a fascinating character… an absorbing, thrilling piece, made brilliant by Cassell’s performance

I say now: Vincent Cassell wows as uber crim Mesrine – stick this with your Goodfellas and Godfather collection.

I also said: autoglass would make a killing with the number of back windows shot out.

9. District 9

Rating: CF2

What: The sleeper hit that smashed the charts despite coming from a first-time director featuring unknown cast. Aliens penned into shanty towns in South Africa are given a crap deal by the government. Huh..

I said then: a sort of buddy-movie, mixed with Tsotsi, the alien-in-bar scenes from Star Wars, some first person shoot-em-up games and transformers.

I say now: The mix of traditional film with documentary and CCTV footage drags aliens into reality, and makes this an original little classic.

I also said: Fooking hell

10. Up

Rating: CF4

What: Pixar brings old man in a flying house via lots of balloons.

I said then: Funny, exciting, heart-warming – just beautifully enjoyable

I say now: The plot sounds stuffy and silly, but the film is both emotinally devastating and childishly silly, making it one of the most enjoyable of the year, and also the highest rated in 2009.

I also said: All they do is shuffle and pee

2009 – The Losers

Fewer films mean fewer miss-steps, but there were still a few stinkers to be found in front of Cinemafool’s eyes in 2009. Some are not necessarily bad films, but they either disappointed, befuddled or simply angered.

Bride Wars

Rating: CF-1

I said: “A plot so thinly constructed a five-year-old could predict what was going to happen (well, maybe not just any five-year-old, but perhaps myself at five, although I was unnaturally clever at that age of course).”

Synecdoche New York

Rating: CF0

I said: “I spent the last two hours watching something weird and meaningless. And if I wanted to do that I’d just watch Inland Empire again.”

“Like a jigsaw puzzle featuring baked beans – the only puzzle my mother has ever given up in her illustrious jigsaw career – there is being tricky enough to test you but cause enjoyment, and being so tricky that it just ends up left in pieces on the table.”

Public Enemies

Rating: CF-1

I said: “You’ve blown up the balloon to its maximum capacity and you’re about to release it, ready to be thrilled as it zooms across the room in a zigzag of fun chaos, complete with silly noises. Alas this was more like those times when you fumble the release and end up with a sputtering disappointment and some spittle in your face.”

Turkey of the year

Only one film stands out as truly shite this year, and it was its insistence of posing as something serious and decent that helped to land it this title, previously shared by Indiana Jones 4, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Pirates of the Caribbean Two, which I hear is now forcing out a fourth instalment like the big, festering turd it will most likely be.

Anyway, this year’s Turkey is:

The International

Rating: CF-2

I said: “it spiralled into a sea of who-cares, launching characters in willy nilly and churning the plot into indecipherable mulsh.”

“It is a mix of the talky bits in Bond that act as fillers between the fight scenes, and the bits in Bourne where they show shots of different European cities. The rest of the mix is filled with shit.”

End on a high

It wasn’t all crap, of course. The Oscar season brought out some pretty enjoyable stuff (Changeling, Slumdog), documentaries shone (Anvil), there was another good zombie comedy (Zombieland) and I got to see Hugh Jackman and Jason Statham on the big screen again, often with few clothes on (Wolverine, Crank 2).

Who knows how many films will be seen in 2010, and who knows if any will ever make a CF5 rating. There is, obviously, a pre-emptive CF-5 for Pirates 4. Can any film be worse? Let’s hope not. See you next year.