AACID TUNG: AUG/SEPT 97
AACID TUNG (Urban Cinefile’s world weary, sarcastic
and cynical sourpuss goes to the movies in the forlorn hope that
something will appeal. It rarely does.)
Mel Gibson, in the role that Harrison Ford should have had, makes
a poor attempt at playing a mixture of likeable buffoon,
dangerous taxi driver, mediocre misfit and genuine nice guy. How
could you get it so wrong, Mel? This movie, I mean. It’s not
up to your usual standard. Somebody’s got to the script
after you read it, maybe? Glad to hear you’re back with Danny on LW . . . 5 isn’t it.
No wonder Columbia kept this hidden from the critics (in Sydney
at least, where the most acidic critics live). For the first half
an hour we watch Clint watching Gene whacking Melora. We see him
sitting behind the two way mirror, but we never see his eyes!
They’re in shadow. How subtle. From the invisible we move to
the incredible, as Judy Davis storms in to cover up the undies
and the undercover operation. The Government spooks are always
the same eerily heartless and stupid robots, and the
predictability of the script defies even Eastwood’s cool
hand, it’s a featherweight story that should have
stayed in the first draft.
Unlike Face/Off, Brassed Off does not have choreographed gun
battles. Instead, it has choreographed brass bands playing tunes
that you would never listen to on the radio. Nor does it have
people losing their faces in immaculate surgery: instead, it has
people losing their jobs in dirty coal mining v dirty politics.
The problem is that the film is all too ideologically righteous
and is busy beating Margaret Thatcher over the political head.
Guys! Thatcher’s been gone for years! Then there is the
sentimentality of these tough coal miners, serenading their dying
leader in hospital - who then recovers enough to conduct their
championship performance at the Albert Hall! Oh, puhlease. I
thought only the Hollywood studios invented that sort of mush.
Imagine a film made in 30 years time that relied almost entirely
on the amusing properties of the word ‘cool’ as used in
the 90s.So we have a movie relying on the humour of the 60s catchcry, 'groovy'. The only other element designed to make us laugh in this
vacuous disaster is a bucktoothed idiot with tufts of false chest
hair and a penchant for toilet humour. The attempt at jokey
spoofery at the expense of the 60s backfires on the whole team,
from star/writer/producer Myers to bimbo/bimbo Liz Hurley. But
they do have one talent: getting investors to stump up for this
load of rubbish.
This pathetic attempt to elevate the action genre into something
with MEANING is hoist on its own petard: credibility. On the one
hand, Woo works his Chinese butt/off moulding the characters to
be three dimensional, on the other he takes away by making
everything else quite unbelievable. Face surgery that sucks your
face off? But leaves no scar? That fools your wife? That can be
reversed? The suspense of whether the good guy gets the bad guy
is left in the gutter as the suspension of belief hovers near
zero. Do Travolta and Cage NEED work this bad?
Not only is the FBI stupid, which is perhaps the only
half-credible aspect of this film’s premise, but so are the
police and so are all the crims. The only smart cookies are the
half dozen riff raff hanging onto the edge of a basement bar in
the wee hours of the morning. Really? Faye Dunaway tries every
old trick in the book to get her act (acting) together, but in
the hands of an inexperienced director like Spacey, she comes out
all pretending. Matt Dillon plays such a dumb crim we can’t
believe he even found the door handle to open his front door to
go to work each day. Then to add insult to injury, the bar’s
tv set is used as a device to move the action along with
information; but it’s so clumsy even Matt Dillon would have
refused to believe it. Back to the acting, methinks, Kevin.
MEN IN BLACK
Tommy, Tommy, what are you doing? Are you the same star who made
Blue Skies? Even The Fugitive? Here is a cartoon asking you to
act like a cartoon character, and you do: you believed the
director (Barry Sonnenfeld) that playing deadpan would look cool.
It just looks deadpan, Tommy. You even let them make you go back
to your abandoned woman standing in a photo by some drab garden
furniture, in what is a piece of sentimental nonsense that has
‘Hollywood suit device’ all over it. But relax, you
were the best part: Men in Black suffers from smartarse disease:
who let the baddie become the bad? Here is Vincent D’Onofrio
as an alien who is distinguished by being not only inept and
ridiculous, but hugely porky (ham acting, guys). Since we
can’t belive either Tommy or Vinnie, what have got? Men in
Email this article
Please see our REVIEWS and
ARCHIVES for a complete selection of what our regular critics
say about all the movies released in Australia.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN: BILE, ER, FILE YOUR VIEWS TO:
SMILLA’S FEELING FOR SNOW
A meteorite with mysterious properties? In a
supposedly adult 90s thriller? This was the stuff of Saturday
afternoon matinees in the 50s. (I hear.) Trotting out the
beautiful Julia Ormond simply makes the filmmakers look desperate
in their efforts to appease their audience. As for Bille August,
that artistic director who takes no Hollywood shit, here he is
using an Inuit boy, high on the Cute Meter, which may well turn
this unknown kid into another miserable Macauley Culkin. As for
the character of Smilla herself, she’s so frigid it should
have been called Smilla’s Feeling LIKE Snow! Take a hot
toddy (or teddy, as you wish) and hope your snorts of disbelief
The predictably nasty, insensitive and
destructive forces that work for the US Government in various
undercover agencies, always led by James Woods - are again
trotted out in a simpleton’s template of audience
manipulation. They are baddies, without a single decent redeeming
feature. Jodie, of course, has the right stuff. We’re taken
for a ride here, but not one that soars with the intergallactic
intelligence of the late and great Carl Sagan, but the rigid
rites of a Hollywood machine unable to escape its own gravity of
predictability. Even when making a film about enlightened
thought, the filmmakers manage to turn brilliant into banal. What
Fanatics and sport-obsessed people are always
boring, so why would anyone spend millions to bore millions?
There is so much talent here, yet so little fun. Sport - soccer,
in particular - is the excuse for Paul’s shortcomings in the
personality and relationships department. Fact is, he’s a
footy-fart who knows very little about self help courses. No
goals scored here.>
The same old dun, dull Lundun . . .the same old
grey and horrid life…. the same old ridiculously self
pitying characters in search of a life: doesn’t Mike Leigh
ever get over it? In Career Girls, we are supposed to be
entertained by two boring tarts meeting up after six years,
having been impossibly boring and twitchy un-friends at college.
They spend a weekend together out of the blue. Why? They
‘accidentally’ meet up with others from that era. Why?
They talk endlessly but say nothing. Why? Why is it called Career
Girls? Their careers are dull and have no place in the story. And
how dare Mike Leigh make a boring film?
SUBSTANCE OF FIRE
What a meaningless title, Substance of Fire. Is
the reference to the mean-spirited Geldhart, who recognises his
own shitty-ness all too late? Where is the fire in shitty-ness?
OK, I do see about the substance… But how can we feel
anything for this old flint-fart when he’s abused his family
and got obsessed with a book about the Holocaust which is being
prepared by the un-dead, a Zombi-like wrinkly in his office with
a filthy mouth? And who cares about his dreary grown up kids who
aren’t sure whether they want his business or his love?
Plus, they are either gay and dull or just dull. Unforgivable.