June has arrived, as has imminent summer, with crests of sun and heat slowing imbuing itself over the city and yada yada yada. Of course, once the tourists, tykes and teens are trotting through every corner of this transient town, you know that summer is here and here to stay until roughly the end of October/early November, at best.
And so now with the Summer 2014 movie season upon us, I dive into a complete grab-bag of what the Spanish cinema cartelera has to offer this first half of the month, starting with a blockbuster that has just hit the screens, an art house costume drama directed by Ralph Fiennes, as well as, another mainstream "horror" flick that hopefully will appeal to our lovely readers and who want to beat the heat this summer. Without further a do, let us begin.
Hey guys! Have you heard?! The man who directed the last few X-Men movies is a pedophile?
SO…let's start with said X-Men : Days of Future Past, the latest installment (and shall I add, a fine one) in this oft-time profound science fiction series based on the famous Marvel comics.
The half-jokey intro above is mostly in hopes that you research a bit of THAT West Hollywood insanity story…but certainly you already know that people have been tricking for roles in cinema since the Golden Age and before…I'm looking at you Taylor Lautner…Anyway, I digress.
What finds the crew in plight this time around in the series is the need of a reversal in time for one crucial if perhaps slightly silly reason. Whilst on a global killing spree preying on mutants and any human supporters in the distant future, a robotic band called Sentinels manage to lose Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and a small group of the beloved mutants after a tense pursuit. When she and her fellow mutants meet immediately after with Professor Xavier, a decision is made. They must stop heroine-turned-villain Mystique from killing the Sentinel creator (Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage in a rather formulaic role), as that would make him a respected martyr and endanger the mutants should Mystique be caught. How to do that? Well, go back in time of course…to 1973 during the high drama of the Vietnam War's end and the Nixon scandal. Granted, as a history major, this is what intrigued me about the film. In a certain light, what writer Simon Kinberg and director Bryan Singer have created is another viewpoint on history, playing with it and making it their own, similarly as Tarantino did with Inglorious Basterds…though certainly not as comically or engrossingly effective as the latter film.
As the year would dictate, the film is obviously focused on the War and the inadequacies of its army and weaponry while also embroiling the Nixon administration as a key player in the Sentinel program. What the film moderately lacks is substance. It is high on style and star power, but rather low on actual substance. Something the last film and definitely the first 2 X-Men films provided was a more pointed, dare I say profound, look at the actual function of society and government in the Modern Age. This time around, while we have a solid script and the usage of Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" has never been played out so amusingly, what stars can't do is give plot more potency and so this film falls safely into prequel-sequel summer fun. ###-1/2 hashtags for this summer blockbuster attempt.
My first memory of Ralph Fiennes was watching him brutally kill the innocent as Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Spielberg's epic Schindler's List. I was a young teenager at the time whose mother had just accepted her Jewish roots and I suppose this impacted me greatly in my remembrance of the film and it certainly played into a LOT of my memories of this incredible character actor. It suited him perfectly to play He Who Cannot Be Mentioned in the Harry Potter saga, as well, and now watching his second cinematic directorial effort, it's quite difficult not to be drawn in by his slow allure as a film auteur…though I must stress the slow. (His first take as a director was in 2011's little-seen but well-reviewed Shakespearean adaptation of Coriolanus, for anyone interested.)
The story deals with author extraordinaire Charles Dickens and the (again) slowly alluring relationship he shared with stage actress Nelly Ternan in the mid-1800s. The story paints a rather bittersweet portrait of their somewhat secret affair, and while the skillful eye of Fiennes glossily highlights a master’s eye for depth in scenery and costume design, there is an ever-looming presence of sadness that permeates the film. But with that said, there is also a sense of wonder, as if the viewer is actually peeking into the realms of history. While many versions of his books have been thrown onto celluloid, not many have actually been made which speak of Dickens’ life. Fiennes certainly chooses his subject matter well. Here's to hoping that his next effort will also demonstrate that depth with perhaps a touch of humor, as well. All in all, a beautiful but bittersweet, calm night alone, type of summer outing. ###-1/2
Horror and dark thrillers make me feel all wet...down there. I absolutely love them, and am quite the fan. Always have been and always will be. That said, watching with quiet anticipation always bring about even more suspense when dealing with a horror film and I love that sensation even more. And then there is the subtle, non-allure of the horror fantasy (read:action) thriller, an oxymoronic genre that is theoretically the love child of Willow being brutally raped by She-Ra and then pursued by escaped demons from some forgotten film of yore.
You know the type, the Underworld series, the Mummy series, Lara Croft, even in an odd way, X-Men has dabbled in, at the very least, the feel of the fantasy thriller/ horror genre. And then there's this month's I, Frankenstein. This is certainly a desperate attempt to join the fray of the Underworld series (Kevin Grevioux is the story creator of both this silly schlock and the Underworld schlock, so go figure) but the fact that Aaron Eckhart and personal fave Bill Nighy were in the film forced me to take stock of my options and spend the time watching this…mostly laughing and saying "Ohhh gawd."
When I first saw Aaron Eckhart in In the Company of Men, I knew that the brother was destined to be a great indie film actor who wouldn't hopefully die with a needle in his arm surrounded by 50 heroin bags and an Oscar.
That, years later, he has gone this route in such a shoddy film is beyond me. Granted, he makes for a rather tattered and handsome Frankenstein...or Adam...as they dub him here, after all, he is the first and only one of his kind. But within a matter of minutes after the film commences, the story turns into a demon versus gargoyle fantasy fight orgy and doesn't let up for an hour and a half. Bill Nighy does his best in a thankless role but you're best watching this on a tab of something or better yet, a bottle of wine…think of your heart, after all! # -- and that is being rather nice as one hashtag denotes that while being awful, it is still laughably watchable.
On a side note before I leave you this weekend, an option that involves fantasy, sci-fi silliness, humour and animation might best be in order. Do yourself a favor and laugh...look for a series called Rick and Morty. No seriously, please do this.
Ok folks, every week or so, your stalwart mystery companion will be here with 3-5 new reviews and your comments and opinions, while your own, are quite welcome! Keep them clean (a little dirty is always ok, though) and keep it real but keep them coming. Any suggestions for upcoming reviews are also wanted, so see you next time when I will talk about the new Jarmusch film, the latest Johnny Depp flick, as well as, a love story rom-com and Marion Cotillard's newest movie. Keep Calm and Hashtag, my pretties!