Friday, January 29, 2010

Heavenly Creatures

Peter Jackson seems to be a director for whom reality holds no interest. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as he chooses his projects well, but it's clear that he wants to spend as much time as he can creating novel and interesting worlds rather than deal with the mundane reality. As such, he's the perfect person to take on the story of Heavenly Creatures, a film about two young girls who eschew reality and live in a fantasy world of their own creation, with less than positive results.

Melanie Lynskey is Pauline Parker, a perpetually scowling girl from New Zealand. Kate Winslet is Juliet Hulme, a new arrival to New Zealand who is one of those kids who is a bit too loud and a bit too convinced of their own brilliance. They bond over the fact that they were often sick and are not especially popular, and retreat into a lovingly rendered fantasy realm. That fantasy becomes increasingly intense, as does their bond, which leads their parents to be concerned about their well being. Unfortunately, this is interpreted as a threat to their friendship, and to their world, with tragic results.

I feel the need to make special note of the camera here. Camerawork, naturally, can create a mood, but with a variety of sweeps and turns, Jackson manages to capture that feeling of obsession and happiness that begins an intense relationship. The camera throughout sets the mood, from romantic, to horror, to the last sequence which is somewhat elegiac. Sometimes it's a bit overplayed - zoom for emphasis isn't the best choice - but the camera catches the emotions of the characters.

It's an interesting journey it goes on. Contrasting the elaborate fantasy of two main characters with the more sensible concerns of their parents keeps everything in context. While it endeavors to give an understanding of the girls' motives, it keeps the audience from getting convinced they were right. Parker's mother is deftly played by Sarah Peirse, who manages to pull off the impossible trick of being kind and tender and absolutely awful depending on whose perspective the scene is seen from. It works hard to keep every side of the story in focus.

It's obvious that the fantasy sequences were Jackson's favorite part of the production, but that's fine, because they're an essential part of the story. The way they are intercut with reality gives a unique perspective into the minds of the girls, who were so obsessed with their manufactured reality that they had great difficulty in the real world.

When I talked about Champion, I spoke about how that movie succeeded because you cared about the character at the center. Here, it works because you understand those characters, who were also real. You won't agree with their course of action, but you will get a glimpse into their mind. While it's a vividly realized place, it's also somewhere where you wouldn't want to be.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Let's get this out of the way quickly: The entire premise of Face/Off is ridiculous. John Travolta and Nicholas Cage switching bodies? That's amazingly improbable, though it must be said not as improbable as the steps required to get to that particular ludicrous development. The script as a whole is built on concept rather than coherence, and it goes all over the place and with all sorts of wild yet ill-defined plans. On paper, this is all very stupid.

One gets a sense that director John Woo realized how insane the whole thing was. As a result, instead of trying to play things straight, we get a film that embraces it's own ridiculousness. It drenches what would otherwise be a very stupid story in waves of style and over-acting, and as a result, even with the very high body count, it turns into pure fun.

Step one in this transformation is the casting of Nicholas Cage. Nobody can do completely unhinged quite as well as Cage, and when he's playing Caster (the villain) he takes it so many notches over the top that you can't help but forget about taking anything seriously. As a result, when John Travolta becomes Caster, he's got to do his best Nicholas Cage impression, having to match him in wild-eyed madness. The performances are so over the top that there's no indication of where the top is, or if it is even possible to bring it back down. You can't take anything seriously with so much flamboyant acting on the screen. This is something you can't take seriously if you want to enjoy it.

Step two entails making the action sequences as stylish and accomplished as possible. That's John Woo, whose action sequences never fail to be engaging, stylish, exciting, and a bit too long to really take seriously. With his impeccable command of music, pacing and pyrotechnics, Woo can pull off sequences that are like a ballet with guns and explosions. The script becomes completely irrelevant, as it functions merely to set up superb imagery and impeccably done action sequences.

Between those two steps, we get an extremely bloody action film that manages to be extremely fun and engaging. According to the internet, it was once proposed to be a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If that would have happened, it might have been truly horrible. But with a cast and crew who are clearly enjoying themselves, and look that throws caution to the wind and becomes so cool you don't think of the logic behind it. It's a symphony of violence, and one that's astonishingly watchable. It could have been terrible, one can see the potential for serial awfulness in its bones. Luckily, the right people came together, and made a film that one is almost forced to adore.

Friday, January 22, 2010


One of the big problems with bio-pics is that they have to compress what is generally a complicated life into two hours, frequently attempting to make a story arc out of something that generally doesn't arc in a predictable fashion. As a result, often things are glossed over and the life no longer resembles what really happened. One of the problems with sports movies is the need to keep people rooting for the preferred team or player. In this case, it means that the good guy is given artificial obstacles and the opposing characters are made out to be unfortunately evil. Yet, combine the two and you'll get something like Raging Bull, the famous boxing movie starring Robert DeNiro and directed by Martin Scorsese which does not fall into the typical traps. Or, you'll get a movie by someone who has watched Raging Bull numerous times, Champion which avoids some of the traps, and falls into others.

Champion is, naturally, about a champion, Korean boxing champ Kim Deuk-gu, as played by Oh-seong Yu. Duek-gu isn't very smart, and at the beginning he's not even that good, but he devotes himself to training and steadily rises through the ranks in Korean boxing to become the Pan Asian champion, and challenges a man named "Boom Boom" Mancini (Matt Phillips) to the world championship. Fans of boxing and/or Warren Zevon might be able to figure out the ending, but that's only a small part of the story. Instead, the film keeps focus on the middle, and the type of person Duek-gu was.

He's an interesting character in that he's not very complex, but there's something very honest about him. He's an admirable figure simply because he sticks to his goal, as though he realizes that it's all he can do, all he knows, and the only way he can make a living. He uses it to better his life, and while he seems to realize where boxing will lead him - as does everyone else, quietly - he continues to do it because he knows that it's something he can strive to be good at.

As a result, we like Duek-gu even though he's never made out to be the explicit underdog. In fact, one of the strengths of the film that, no matter what happens, we're presented with a man who is genuinely good at what he does, or is good at what he does after he gains some confidence. In fact, the climactic match is presented as completely even. We care about him because he came from nothing and has bettered himself. Yes, it does arc conveniently, but his life did aim directly towards the climactic fight, so it makes sense.

Another bonus is that it's a very well made movie. As mentioned before, director Kyung-Taek Kwak has clearly watched Raging Bull several times. There are shots throughout that are directly ripped from the film, and he's clearly inspired by the way boxing was shot for it. I am not complaining, because Raging Bull was one of the best boxing films yet made, partially because of how the boxing was shot, and this just takes it a few steps further. Kwak has a great visual sense, and there are frequently absolutely beautiful shots. While it does have some amazing boxing sequences, outside of the ring it is equally well done, in particular a completely devastating tracking shot near the end of the film.

It does follow most of the beats you would expect from a sports film, but it does it so well, and makes one care about the characters so much, it makes you forget that the beats are there in the first place. Even if it compresses a complicated life into two hours, it makes one care about that life, and about other people who have similar lives and careers. While there were far reaching effects to the fight at the end, there's really only one that's mentioned within the film, and after two hours with Deuk-gu, it's the only one that really matters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ABC Africa

A good documentary can take a subject and add additional insight to it. The subject of ABC Africa is the problem of AIDS in Uganda, the difficulty dealing with the orphans whose parents die of AIDS, and programs to help parents teach their kids and learn how to improve their lives. What additional knowledge did I learn from ABC Africa?

-Taxi drivers in Uganda will stare directly forward in an incredibly awkward and slightly amusing way if you aim a camera at their ear.

-Kids in Uganda love mugging for the camera. This is true of all kids, but especially those in Uganda.

-Iranian filmmakers are unable to find their hotel room in the dark.

-Iranian filmmakers are also unable to realize that filming several minutes of them talking about how dark it is, with no picture, is less than ideal.

-Iranian filmmakers should probably read the notice that says "electricity is cut after midnight, bring a flashlight."

-Ugandan schools seem to have really good music programs. Or, at least, lots of people willing to sing on camera.

-Mosquitoes can be big.

-Ugandan airlines have really bad CG videos showing people how to put their seatbelts on. They are hilarious.

-The church in Uganda is still pushing abstinence in spite of a big AIDS epidemic going on. This seems irresponsible - and hey, that's relevant!

If one did not realize already, this documentary documents lots of irrelevant things. In fact, it feels like the vacation video of some enthusiastic amateurs, not the product of an apparently acclaimed Iranian filmmaker tackling a serious subject. It just lets film roll, no matter how dumb it might be. As a result, it fails in its mission, to make people care about Ugandan orphans, mostly because it's really boring. More exploring the issues surrounding AIDS, less filming the ears of cab drivers, maybe we would have gotten somewhere.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Iron Giant

It's only appropriate that one follows up a fairly awful anime with a film that validates animation as a form. Since I love animation, I feel the need to confirm that animation is totally amazing. Luckily, by pure coincidence, I had a film by someone who is quite possibly the best and most consistent director working in animation today, who currently works for the studio which is quite possibly the best and most consistent animation studio around. However, this is the film he made before joining that studio, which is also amazing. I am speaking, of course, of the totally fantastic Brad Bird, and the Iron Giant.

In the very beautifully animated world of Rockwell, Maine lived a young kid with the rather strange name of Hogarth. He likes pets, like squirrels, which really annoys his mother Annie, who is both a single mother and a busy waitress. One day, he discovers a big Iron Giant, who is like a big massive puppy dog who can't remember anything. They become fast friends, as often happens in this kind of movie, but their friendship is challenged by Kent, who works for the government, has a huge ego and is highly paranoid about the "red menace," since this takes place in the 50s. Also involved is friendly artist shopkeeper beatnik cool dude Dean, who runs a scrapyard, which is convenient, because the aforementioned Iron Giant has a taste for metal.

For some reason, millions of films are made about kids and their pets. Maybe this is because a pet is one of those things that is always loyal, reliable and friendly. For a particularly awkward kid - as someone named Hogarth would inevitably be - a pet is one of the rare friends one might have. Kids can immediately identify with teaching and becoming close to a loyal pet. Some kids even have to deal with their loyal pet putting their life on the line to save them - a case recently happened in B.C. of a Golden Retriever which kept a cougar off of her owner, for example. It's something that remains somewhat universal, even if the pet, like in this case, is a super cool robot.

So what sets apart a really good pet story from a less good one? Well, being about a super cool robot helps, of course. Simply by being a robot, it opens up a wide range of possibilities of what it can do. Powers can be given, wonder can be created, and one can do a really detailed homage to the style of the 50s and cold war paranoia. The Iron Giant does all of that.

First the giant himself. Here is something that could not be created without animation, a blend between cel-shaded CGI and hand drawn that is innovative, good looking, and exactly the same as what Futurama uses. I'm not sure who did it first, but it's such a good look that I'm sad I don't see it more, and it's a key component to making the film as compelling as it is. The Iron Giant is, in spite of being a big robot, is filled with emotion and character, and quickly becomes endearing to the audience. You care about the Giant, which is absolutely key to making the film work.

The rest of the characters are similarly fully realized. The humans are completely, fully drawn humans, complete with good and bad, and aspects of their personality that people can identify in themselves. Annie isn't perfect, but she's a good mom. Hogarth is foolish, but he's basically a good kid. Even the villain, with his ego and desire for career advancement, does have the safety of his country at heart. His main flaw is that he's convinced that he's right, even when he couldn't possibly be more wrong.

In short, it works because it spends a lot of the time just making you care. The conflicts, the characters, the world, they all become important before the end of the film. It's a world you want to protect, and you want to turn out well. When you see a movie like this, that should be the priority, and when the drama unfolds you suddenly have an investment in everything involved.

Another plus is that the sheer level of detail in the picture, which explains why Bird fits in so well at Pixar. From the uniquely awful acting in a B-movie within a movie, to the light mockery of old atomic bomb safety videos, there are layers and layers of homage in the background, things that grow and one notices as they watch the film. A young kid can enjoy the story, and as one ages and learns they can find more little details to amuse and entertain. It's wonderfully clever.

So where does this fit in the overall realm of pet pictures? It should be near the top, up with ET and well above Ol' Yeller. It should be one of those films that families have to buy repeatedly as the DVD wears out from constant use. Warner Brothers bungled the release so it wasn't nearly as popular as it should have been, but I hope people discover it more and more as the years go buy. I'm going to say, without regret or a hint of hesitation, that this is a classic, and something that people will be able to enjoy for decades to come.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Wind Named Amnesia

At the first menu of A Wind Named Amnesia I was concerned. Here was a movie which actually had written on the DVD menu screen a note to use the menu buttons in order to select options. How obvious is that? Do they really not trust the audience enough to believe they can figure out how to work a DVD player? The answer soon became apparent, and that answer is no.

The premise here actually could be pretty decent. In the post apocalyptic future of...11 years ago, everyone in the world has forgotten everything they know. How to speak, how to find food, how to not explode, all of these things have been wiped clean by a magical wind. As a result, people have become more primitive, and their sentient robots have been allowed to run riot. However, one guy actually does know language and how to operate a Jeep, and he is supposed to help people learn again, with the help of a lady with silver hair. Together they travel the world, encountering people as they inch towards civilization in the crumbling debris of their former society. That could be a good premise on its own, plus there's a sequence very early on about the origins of a religion, which worships a piece of heavy construction equipment a man has figured out how to manipulate.

So, on paper, we have a compelling movie. Many things work on paper, however, and if it's not obvious from the tone already, this doesn't actually work. The annoying thing is there is a very, very simple explanation for this. In short, everything is explained too much. Every action, every reaction, everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future is accompanied by a wall of dialog. The musings about the scenes often ramble on for much longer than necessary, make awkward attempts at being deep - sometimes even reaching the level of a high school student's journal - and sometime even appear to misinterpret the scene that just happened. A moment where a woman runs back to her father because she cares for him is explained as her not being comfortable leaving the security of the city where they are the only survivors and are provided for, when from the editing of the previous sequence would normally indicate that she just loves the man that the 'heroes' haven't bothered taking with them.

So it really doesn't trust the audience at all, is that the only problem? No, there's also the story overall. As mentioned before, there's a potentially great bit about the origins of a religion, but it only takes up a small portion of the running time, before it goes off in search of more life lessons to explain in an overly messy fashion. The problem is, in that search, we lose any sense of narrative, instead things just happening because the running time needs padding. A sentient robot is introduced early on that just doesn't go away, existing solely to have something happen in the last act. Well, something other than gratuitous animated breasts, anyway.

That brings me to my other problem, which is how it tries to be mature. It is anime, and it seems to need to show off its adult themes a bit, seemingly to prove that grownups can watch cartoons too. I have no problem with mature animated films naturally, and I feel the medium has never been used to its full potential. When I say that, however, I don't mean to say we need to see more pointless shots of animated - and suspiciously young - breasts swinging in the breeze. There are only three female characters in the film, but two of them get topless, one solely for the sale of frolicking. The second woman was part of a sex scene that was part of some heavy handed symbolism, so it's somewhat less objectionable than the teenager frolicking moment, but I still felt that I was being pandered to.

That's the problem really, I got the impression throughout that this film just didn't think very highly of me. Everything is explained, lengthy speeches were inserted about the nature of man in order to impart a lesson, and it gives out gratuitous boobs in order to captivate its sweaty, mouth breathing, doesn't get out enough audience. A good film needs to trust you to understand its content and what is going on. A poor film doesn't trust you with anything. This is a truly poor film.

Friday, January 8, 2010

High Plains Drifter

One of the interesting things about Clint Eastwood is that the films he directs don't necessarily match his screen persona. Here is a man who has made his name through feats of pure badassery, either in westerns or the Dirty Harry series, who has become the go to source for films which manage to hit a certain mix of sensitivity and understanding of his characters, especially lately. Now, he's not the most consistent director in the world - hello Space Cowboys - but he has managed the difficult feat of pleasing both audiences and critics, and often doing so with issues people might be uncomfortable with. Not everyone can make a movie following the Japanese at Iwo Jima which is mostly sympathetic, yet still manage to have it accepted in America. Through most of his films, one gets the sense that he genuinely cares about his characters, so even in his low points that impression overrides. So, here's High Plains Drifter, a film that sticks out in Eastwood's filmography, just because very little of what I just said applies.

Let's be clear here, this is not to say this is a bad film. On the contrary, I liked it a lot. However, unlike the majority of Eastwood films I've seen, respect for the characters within - with one or two exceptions - would have made it fall down completely. This is a movie which hinges on the audience not liking the characters at all, and if one does it loses a lot of what makes it great. It is, then, the bizarro Eastwood that must be behind the camera, though I like that one too.

So what's it all about? Well, there's a town called Largo which harbors a dirty little secret - a secret which I won't tell you, because I like surprises. Arriving in town is Eastwood, whose name, in spite of the IMDB's trivia section's claims, is never given - this seems to happen to his characters a lot - who proceeds to make everyone nervous. There is a good reason for this, as within moments of arriving he kills three people and rapes one woman. A normal town would think that this is a bad man, and should be arrested, but Largo doesn't, and hires him to protect the town from other bad men coming back after a year in prison, primarily due to that aforementioned secret. Eastwood takes the opportunity to make a series of increasingly ridiculous demands, and effectively turns the town in on itself. His relation to the town itself never becomes explicit, though it is heavily implied that there is one, and one begins to wonder what his motivations are and where they come from.

The ambiguity of the picture is one of the strengths, especially since there's no clear indication of how Eastwood's character knows what he does, or how he can pick out the characters which deserve saving and which deserve punishment. He's a mysterious force, arriving from somewhere to punish the sinners - which includes those who stand by and watch while bad things happen, without doing anything - and the town as a whole. As the town itself relies on others to do its dirty work for it, one gets increasingly certain that they should realize what they're doing to themselves, and all ill that comes out of his presence is well deserved. Here's a man who is introduced with rape and murder, how can they trust him and give him complete control of the place?

The film, in spite of a fair bit of violence, is clearly a moral tale. All of the mistakes made and punishment metered out is due to the inability of people to actually stand up for themselves. If they weren't weaseling around behind closed doors and hiring others to "solve" their problems, none of the events that transpire would happen. But, by refusing to stand up where it matters, they steadily destroy themselves and their relationships.

It also doesn't sound like any western I had ever seen. The look is standard Western material, naturally, though with significantly more red - painting the town red is somewhat less exciting and jubilant than the phrase generally implies - but the music isn't the standard guitar-based sound at all. In a bid to keep it slightly creepy and otherworldly, the soundtrack instead takes on an electronic sound - I think I hear theramins! - which sometimes even sounds appropriate for the original series of Star Trek. It's decidedly weird, but actually very welcome, since it emphasizes some of the more otherworldly aspects of the picture.

It's interesting, this little project has a tendency to meet people at a low point, and this is so much different than a regular Eastwood film that one might expect it to be continuing the trend, but I actually found this to be one of the high points. As strange as the film can be, and for how little it relates to how people currently know Eastwood's direction, it's really one of the most fascinating westerns I've ever come across. I'm not sure if my tastes have become completely apparent over the past year, but this is my favorite kind of movie. It's exciting, it's interesting, and it makes one think. I dare say it's one of the best movies I've seen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I don't know very much about the production history of Alias. I know the film is from Belgium, but being a semi-obscure film from Belgium the intimate details are hard to come by. I have a strong suspicion, however, that the production started life as a TV series, and then the whole thing was derailed and made into a film.

Why do I suspect that? Well, for the first hour, we have a film that builds. Characters are steadily introduced, the central mystery is laid out, and we're kept guessing as to the true nature of a key character. That character is Dieter, played by Geert Hunaerts, who by the power of his amazing buttocks attracts the attention of Eva, played by Hilde De Baerdemaeker. Eva, either coincidentally or not coincidentally - that's part of the mystery! - has just witnessed and filmed the suicide and/or murder of some naked lady. Also filmed are two bumbling thieves breaking into a car, in a subplot that doesn't really go anywhere, though it does serve to give thunder butt a way to introduce himself, through the power of gratuitous violence. Anyway, Eva and her friend Patti (Veerle Dobbelaere) begin to examine the tape to see what was going on, while Eva becomes attracted to Dieter and his bum and we wonder how he is connected to the suicide of the sexy lady. Also present is Mark (Werner De Smedt) who is played as somewhat emotionally abusive yet is also almost a hero in a bizarre end twist.

For that first hour, we get some fairly standard pilot material for a serialized storyline. A mystery is introduced, we get some flashy over-designed opening credits - a TV staple - and a number of characters and relationships are established in the early going. It's standard fare for a pilot really, and it does do a passable job of making one curious about the central mystery. Then, after the opening hour is complete, in the space of a single cut all mystery is discarded. What happens is we move from getting a story that slowly develops and a potentially compelling mystery into everyone's motivations laid bare and the entire storyline explained in a serious of info dumps. One can see that someone was instructed that, oh crap, it's a movie now, we have 47 minutes left, time to wrap it up.

It's a pacing disaster, characters are changed from complex to cardboard cutouts, and the ending is clearly rushed. The worst part is, I could see it coming, because it became increasingly obvious that the pace could no longer be sustained, and also from the editing to the visual style, this was always meant to be a TV show.

Would it have been a good TV show? Well, I'm not sure. It wasn't extremely compelling, I'll be honest. On the other hand, there are a couple pretty good moments in there, and one wonders how they might have gone in a more serialized approach. There's a bathroom scene that's having a grand old time pulling tricks on the audience, and there's one simply masterful comedic touch. When one character is being pitched as the major psycho, the scene immediately after is that character gleefully singing "Rose Garden" while driving. It's possibly the most amusing cut that there has ever been in a middle of the road thriller.

There are some other odd things here. There's a shocking cliffhanger twist ending that might have made for a second season of the TV show once the mystery was solved, but here just arrives without explanation and is fairly stupid. It does foreshadowing by ripping off more famous characters in better movies by more famous directors - Norman Bates has ensured that loving one's mother too much will always be seen as a touch creepy. Worst of all for a thriller, it just doesn't pack much punch.

I don't know if I'm completely right about the TV show origins, but it does explain the flaws and the inconsistencies of the film. It also makes one wish that the pilot would have just been picked up. That way, things could have been developed in a proper fashion, and more importantly, I could have watched something else. It's a win-win situation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thunder in Dixie

Behold, the power of reduced expectations! I'm not sure what I would have thought of Thunder in Dixie if I didn't watch Speed Lovers first, but I found myself more entertained than I had any right to be. Here was a movie where people could act! The camera was handled well! The score was jazzy! Hell, the script even had some tension in there! Plus it had main titles by Saul Bass' Non-Union equivalent, which was kind of neat. Overall, this movie was not awful, I'm impressed.

Once upon a time there was a race driver named Mickey (Harry Millard). He drove very drunk and killed the wife of another racing driver, Ticker (Mike Bradford). As a result, Ticker blames Mickey for his wife's death, and is very angry. He also wants revenge. So, at the first race Mickey comes back to, he intends to be very aggressive and hopefully kill him. This is not effective conflict resolution. Realizing this are the girlfriends of the drivers. Lily (Judy Lewis) doesn't want her husband racing anymore, and is trying to convince him to give it up. Karen (Nancy Berg) doesn't want boyfriend Ticker to die either, though admittedly she wasn't very interesting so I don't remember her character very well. It all builds to the climactic race, where we are promised thrills, spills, and so on.

Much like Speed Lovers, the bulk of the time is spent in hotel rooms. Unlike Speed Lovers, the actors involved can mostly put in decent performances. Judy Lewis is even somewhat impressive, doing a lot with a middle of the road script, and managing to give her character some depth and visually telegraphing her concern for her husband through just looks and the way she pauses. She even manages to build tension in otherwise boring scenes, as she acts her way out of the paper bag known as the script. The other actors are generally also not awful, and it makes the core story of the film believable and almost interesting. That's faint praise, but I'm coming off of Speed Lovers, give me a break.

Of course, it's not perfect, it clearly didn't have the budget for perfect. It needed a race, and it didn't have some racing driver to exploit footage of. As a result, the race is actually somewhat intense and easy to follow. It also is essential to the plot, unlike Speed Lovers where the race - much like every scene in the movie - isn't essential to anything. Unfortunately, it's also clearly the only race they could afford to film, and still mainly uses stock footage, so we have to deal with a cavalcade of hotel rooms yet again.

That's the real problem with Thunder in Dixie, it's cramming a full half hour of story into 80 minutes. Scenes repeat, constantly, and the action really goes nowhere for the entire middle third of the movie. To be fair, it was made for drive-in theatres, and that's prime make out time. Really, all you need to see is the beginning and end, as though the filmmakers knew to allow for heavy petting mid-picture.

It's dull, and really not a very good movie in the grand scale of things. What it is, however, is competent. That's not high praise, but having just seen Speed Lovers, competence is a wonder. I embrace this film's dull competence. Bless you Thunder in Dixie, you are not as bad as you could be.

As a side note, Happy New Year! We're coming up on a full year of Movies at Random, and what a year it's been! What can you expect in 2010? Well, we've got something from Belgium, something from Clint Eastwood, and more wacky adventures lined up. Stay tuned for more MaR, because I enjoy the project most of the time.