Rating with Ears

Aug 14

Films of 2014, #133: Stone (Curran, 2010)

Robert De Niro and Edward Norton star in this lame Cape Fear-like drama that doesn’t work most of the time. While De Niro does a good job as a man who’s dealing with long buried demons, his own spirituality and an odd marriage, the role doesn’t go very far and it all ends up quite muddy by the end. Edward Norton plays a convict who plays some mind games with De Niro, and it’s all very basic and the entire film has one contrivance after the next, making Stone seem like little more than a TV movie. Besides De Niro, Stone doesn’t work. Norton plays the same smart convict role that he’s done before, and there’s also nothing to care about either. While redemption was part of theme, it’s hard to give a shit about these horrible people.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Aug 13

Films of 2014, #132: The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (Fiennes, 2012)

I’ve never heard of Slovene philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, and part of me wishes I’d never hear from him ever again.

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology takes a look at cinema in an interesting way that brings up ideas that I never would have considered. It’s equal parts intoxicating and frustrating. Zizek goes on and on about whatever comes to mind, sounding like a mad professor who’s spent too much time at the cinema. For every interesting point (Taxi Driver/The Searchers, or even Coca-Cola and The Sound of Music) there’s other pointless meandering (Triumph of The Will/Rammstien, They Live).

Slavoj Zizek is…. well… interesting. He’s hard to understand and almost put on subtitles. It’s maddening, but it’s also kind of perfect, it wouldn’t have the same quality if I understood every damn thing. Plus, having Zizek speak on movie sets of Titanic, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jack and other films adds a very odd quality to the entire film. While it’s quite dumb, it’s also remarkably smart and should be watched by every cinephile.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Films of 2014, #131: Gods and Generals (Maxwell, 2003)

A prequel to Gettysburg, this film takes all the excitement out and replaces it with lots of people talking about war and how hard it all is, without actually showing us. Gods and Generals isn’t a messy film, and it’s got some stunning landscapes and I’m sure it’s very historically accurate. But, there’s a handful of battle scenes that go on for some time, and they don’t end up being violent, it makes for an odd watch to say the least. Men line up, and they fall down. That’s it. No blood, no sweat, nothing.

Gods and Generals does some decent acting all around, including Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee, and Jeff Daniels. But with a script that filled with lofty speeches and pointless scenes of dialogue the film is a bore. Also, having a focus on The South isn’t a bad thing, but practically ignoring black people and slavery (although there are scenes that mention slavery, they all seem cobbled inside the film awkwardly).

Ted Turner made this movie. He financed the entire thing, all $65 million. The man even has a shameless cameo. Turner was an evil man who did his fare share of dreadful things to cinema over the years, and his backing should have turned me away from watching this. Instead, I wasted three and a half hours of plodding, mildly racist, horribly boring film making.

Rating: 2 out of 10. 

Aug 12

Films of 2014, #130: A Most Wanted Man (Corbijn, 2014)

A Most Wanted Man

Based on John Le Carre’s novel, A Most Wanted Man is a slow, subtle spy film that takes it’s time and draws in it’s audience by dialogue and sharp plotting. There’s no huge reveals, explosions or gun battles. Le Carre’s novels have always put the story first, and never worried about “action”, leaving the characters to unfold things. Director Anton Corbijn brings his distinct eye to his third film with some stunning landscapes of Germany. Much like The American, Corbijn has a very sharp, distinct vision here. But A Most Wanted Man has stronger characters and a more compelling story. With Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Gunther Bachmann, a leader of a spy organization who’s watching a possible terrorist and paying close attention to his funds and where he puts them. It could have been a boring film, and to many it will be. But with such strong acting from Hoffman (in his final role), Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright there’s rarely a bum moment in the entire film. Hoffman’s performance as Bachmann is a great one, with a thick accent that never breaks and ends up being another great role in his life’s work.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Films of 2014, #129: Match Point (Allen, 2005)

It was another Allen film that was lauded as a “comeback” and “Allen’s best since…”. And while the praise that was handed to this film makes sense, it’s also concerning. This isn’t the most clever film he’s ever made, and it tends to drag along at times. Setting the story in London was clever choice and the acting is quite good. And although the tone of the film shifts in the last half hour, it makes for the strongest part of the entire film. The story tells about romance, class and jealousy in an interesting way that stands out from other Allen films. But the first half of the film tends to drag, but most of the tediousness is forgiven by the last act.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Aug 11

Films of 2014, #128: Sharknado 2: The Second One (Farrente, 2014)

The sequel to Sharknado, is everything you’d expect it to be. And not much more… but that’s secretly a good thing…

Sharknado wasn’t a good movie, nor is this. But that’s the point and it succeeds more than it should. With an opening sequence that puts Airplane!’s Robert Hays in as the pilot when the storm of sharks hits. Right away, there’s one b-list movie star after the next. Andy Dick, Billy Ray Cyrus and Perez Hilton all show up at one point. Oh, and the Today show cast has some lines as well.

With a sequel this ridiculous and filled with so many “stars”, it could have sucked, and well, it does. But it’s damn entertaining. There’s just enough hilarious and stupid things that happen, with all the bad tropes of B-movies tossed in. From pointless plot lines to dumb action to hilariously bad acting, Sharknado 2 has it all.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Aug 09

Films of 2014, #127: Judge Dredd (Cannon, 1995)

Judge Dredd was recently remade, and it’s gotten decent reviews, so I decided to watch the original first. Why did I do this to myself? I knew it was going to be bad. Hell, I knew it was going to terrible. But I wasn’t prepared for this. This “futuristic” film is dated beyond belief. Although it’s made in 1995, it looks like a sci-fi film from 1985. Stallone is really bad, he can’t even nail the cold, robotic acting properly. Rob Schneider is dreadful as the “comic relief”. It’s a horrible attempt at trying to blend action and comedy, and it’s easily one of the worst action films of the 90’s.

Rating: 1 out of 10.

Films of 2014, #126: Oblivion (Kosinski, 2013)

This Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle goes through the motions of many sci-fi films from Planet of The Apes, to 2001, to I am Legend and more! It’s a mess with it’s story of a man who’s left to deal with drones on an evacuated planet earth with his wife. His memory has been wiped clean, although he still has some pointless flashbacks. Cruise does a decent job here, as always, but there’s little for him to actually do. Morgan Freeman is also here, but he’s just acting as Morpheus. There’s some really beautiful direction by Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy), and a nice score by M83, but most of this film just happens and follows the rules of your typical sci-fi film.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Aug 08

Films of 2014, #125: Green For Danger (Gilliat, 1946)

The only reason I picked this film up was because it was on The Criterion Collection. And like before, I’m mildly unimpressed. There’s not really anything great or extraordinary going on here. The film takes place during WWII and a man ends up dead on an operating table. The rest of the film tries to figure out who did it. There’s some good acting all around, and the film brings early Hitchcock to mind, but it’s not very captivating and somehow goes on for too long, even though it’s only 90 minutes.

Rating: 5 out of 10. 

Films of 2014, #124: In a World… (Bell, 2013)

I never thought that I would see an entire movie on voice-over actors, but here it is. And it’s better than I ever could have expected. Coming from Lake Bell, who does a stunning job at acting and directing her first feature film. With the death of Don LaFontaine, the voice-over industry is trying to find a replacement, and it’s all up in the air. Carol Solomon (Bell) is trying to get the job, but she’s up against some steep competition, including her dad. In a World… is stuffed with lots of laughs, and there’s a few too many ideas that float around, but it’s a much more entertaining and funny film that it could have been.

Rating: 7 out of 10.