Category Archives: Film Reviews

IR Film Review: DEADPOOL [20th Century Fox-IMAX]

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The beauty of “Deadpool” is in the irony of its existence..and even further in its notion of success which it rightfully earned. It should have not happened like this…but it did. “Deadpool” is not a great movie but it hit it just right. It works because it loves what it is. It is both snarky and unbelievably honest. The script has faults and the third act is fairly weak but Ryan Reynolds is a force of will where this character is concerned because he knows the thoughts of Wade Wilson in and out. It is about making fun of your own shortcomings. And that shows why Ryan is ultimately awesome and unbelievable deserving of this. Like “Guardians Of The Galaxy” which paved the way for this film, it is that bursting heart and its paradox that drives it. The opening title sequence perfectly encapsulates this the longer you think about it. “Angel Of The Morning” by Juice Newton is the most unexpected choice but so perfect with these images of death in still life. Deadpool is the harbinger of death but yet the song talks about leaving against your better will. That is what Wade has to do. If you think about it, the same can be true in other Marvel properties. It permeates with Tony Stark & Pepper Potts. When Tony’s place is destroyed in “Iron Man 3”, what resonates is Pepper screaming for him against her better sense. But here the love story despite the action package is utterly front and center in the story. Deadpool as a force of nature plays against it breaking the 4th wall. But, in a sense of reality, it is all that matters. And that is perhaps what Hollywood doesn’t understand about the success. The reason “Deadpool” bashed records this past weekend is simple. The love story. It crossed genders and age brackets. As dysfunctional as it is, love drives everything here. Wade Wilson is an asshole before for sure. But so was Han Solo. So is Starlord. That is why we like them as guys and the girls fall for them. Because there is always redemption. And that is an attractive story to tell.

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The meta thing is simply a device to show how human Wade wants to be. He loves Wham and Voltron and he falls for a prostitute who is a hell of a woman. The story itself, if you look at it, is such a bunch of tropes that it seems to be making fun of itself yet beyond Deadpool himself, the story mechanics are not really that clever. Again the irony of it lies in its reality. Granted this was done for half or less of what these films usually cost. Oddly enough, in more ways than one, “Deadpool” to a lesser extent, reminds me of early 90s superhero movies before they became big. Dolph Lungren as The Punisher for example. The films of Cannon. There is a purity in them despite obvious production shortcomings.

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Beyond these points, you have to examine the underdog nature of what the film is as well. Having met Ryan Reynolds over the years for various movies, including “Green Lantern”…even that movie (which didn’t connect with audiences), he was so earnest in trying to make it whatever it could be. But what people need to always remember is that this was the guy who made “Van Wilder” and “Waiting” (with Chris Pratt’s better half Anna Faris who herself is a force of nature if she ever got the right breakout role). Ryan made it happen. I remember also doing interviews for “Wolverine: Origins” where Deadpool was introduced. The fact that he could come back and make that character new again is a 1000 to 1 shot if not more. At the time, I though Taylor Kitsch was the one going to break out as Gambit because there was a bad-ass movie in there. Channing Tatum doesn’t have that same danger that Kitsch had then. Reynolds, apparent in the movie right before this [“Mississippi Burning”], found that right groove. Whoever leaked that test footage, whoever planned it, nailed it right and thereby created Hollywood lore. Wonderful to see. Don’t explain why it happened. Just be glad it did. Love, being yourself and going for broke conquers all. Especially with Morena Baccarin. Period. Deadpool is laughing for all of us.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: 31 [Sundance 2016]

31_8054The aspect of horror and how spectacle fits into the undeniable formula is the thought process that Rob Zombie can always skew but play with. With the new structure of the studios, it is harder and harder to make the film you want. It either has to be huge, undeniably indie or have an angel investor. Or you can do the crowdfunding approach. It worked for Zach Braff…and it definitely takes you back to your roots but it begs the question: what do the investors get in return? Usually with a lot of these approaches, there is a ton of gimmicks in playing to the crowd. You got to have a hook. What “31” has to its strength is a blessing of characters (more on the villain side) that keep it moving. The problem is that the backing superstructure is pretty weak. Now granted, most of the people seeing this film are not going to be looking at that. The one thing that Zombie can definitely do is set a scene. The ending of “Devil’s Rejects” optimizing the song “Freebird” is over the top and exhilarating on many levels. Here, both the beginning and ending have bookends that really set tone, both with music and editing. Zombie’s use of freeze frame is an art and always harkens his films back to the Grindhouse circuit. After the screening, he did make reference to growing up in carnivals among the carnies so that notion of a gypsy existence very much rings true here. Sheri Moon Zombie gets the female vigilante role and busts it out, going for gold. You know she feels safe to do whatever is necessary and she goes for it. The dialogue is what it is since it is working towards an end game. It is more for the theatricality of it then anything else. The revelation of the movie is Richard Brake who plays Doom31_5313head. You’ve seen him in a ton of films and music videos as well as “Game Of Thrones”. He is the movie. His character has little motivation but his sheer presence, intelligence and physicality simply pummels off the screen. This character is doing a job, albeit a violent one, but he loves it. Every time he is on screen, nothing else can dominate it. You can build a new horror franchise off this character. No masks. Pure and simple. The weak spot is the meaning per se of the game itself. Malcolm McDowell, a longtime favorite of Zombie’s, takes on a maniacal role but the chemistry on it is not quite right. He gambles with two older ladies on the results of the game but their inclusion seems neither motivated or essential. The sequences essentially take you out of the movie. The other villain including a murderous midget dressed up like Hitler, two maniacal brothers with chainsaws and a girl/boy team that is all about beauty and the beast by way of a maniacal mix of “The Munsters” and the nihilists from ” The Big Lebowski” is interesting but despite an inkling doesn’t make a story connection. There is a small one with “beauty” but it is never really optimized. Again, the movie doesn’t necessarily need to be that deep. On one side you have a powerful villain presence and some good style but on the other side a fairly weak backbone in terms of concept. But the element of it balances a bit and ending is still pretty bad ass.

C+

By Tim Wassberg

 

IR Film Review: ANTIBIRTH [Sundance 2016]

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When you look at the structure of teen angst and rebellion, it is always interesting to look at the progression of both Natasha Lyonne and Chloe Sevigny. I saw Natasha at one of the first parties I attended at Sundance in a private house around 1997 partying with Eddie Furlong. Chloe I originally ran into when she had that infamous run of publicity with Vincent Gallo and “The Brown Bunny”. What these two girls have always known how to do is take risks though neither has truly broken out into mainstream fame. Sevigny has had more success due to the HBO fuel of “Big Love”.

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In the new movie “Antibirth” which premieredin Sundance’s Midnight section, there is a possibility for sure but the hand of director Danny Perez is truly not steady enough to balance the tone and make it both horrifying and riveting. How it begins definitely has potential. These two bad ass chicks who are self destructive in their own personal kind of way almost have the necessity of “Thelma & Louise” for a new misshapen generation. The chemistry is palpable. These girls could do some damage if they really wanted to. The background of a desolate wasteland (obviously the tax rebate heaven Michigan in the winter) specifically help situations. Actually too much profanity and incessant drug use (specifically by Lyonne) dull the situation. It would have been better if she went harder (and did less…say heroin). It would become a signal of almost nihilism and a point of no return.

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However as soon as the film passes its 1/3 point, it has shifted to become focused on Lyonne who is trying but not controlled enough. Sevigny is better but she disappears literally for most of the movie. The revelation as Lyonne becomes pregnant and starts to transition into the movie’s twist could even feel more isolating if it was shot better and honestly, stayed with a less fantastical. It takes on an almost carnie tone. “Antibirth” has a possibility of hard core sci fi that could have truly transcended optimizing the right score. The last five minutes starts to show that and a wider narrative idea but it is squandered, as though the director thought “this is cool” but wandered too much. It’s too bad because his leading ladies were undeniably up for the challenge, just not used to the point they should have. Their car banter is a small glimpse into what might have been.

D

By Tim Wassberg

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