TANK GIRL (1995)

Directed By: Rachel Talalay

Written By: Tedi Sarafin

Based on a Comic-Strip By: Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin 

Cinematography: Gale Tattersall

Editor: James R. Symons 

Cast: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Don Harvey, Jeff Kober, Reg E. Cathey, Scott Coffey, Ann Cusack, Iggy Pop, Brian Wimmer, Billy L. Sullivan, James Hong, Doug Jones, Stacy Linn Ramsowar 

A girl is among the few survivors of a dystopian Earth. Riding a war tank, she fights against the tyranny of a mega-corporation that dominates the remaining potable water supply of the planet.


The film successfully fills out a comic book world with vivid colors, fashions, and ridiculousness. 

The problem is that it all feels constantly staged on a set and bargain basement. The practical special effects are the only thing that is very impressive. Even later in the film Malcolm McDowell’s character’s more digital look is lackluster.

The film looks cheap and it keeps its rebellious D.I.Y. Punk attitude, but it doesn’t sell the story. It tries to remind the fans of its origins from time to time showing a scene and then showing the outcome from the panel of the graphic novel. Fans might remember how much it is not the graphic novel, but light entices newbies in the audience to seek out the source material.

The film isn’t horrible it is probably actually ahead of its time given a decade later it would probably have been treated better by the studio and audiences might have been more receptive. If made today probably would have been a successful limited series on a streaming Service 

Surprisingly I quite enjoy the film. Though wasn’t actually looking for much. Maybe it is that offbeat production and sense of humor the film has that makes it feel a little different and special. 

Lori Petty’s performance is enjoyable one of her biggest starring roles. Though I can understand if some audience members might find her annoying. While she is certainly energetic and wacky to truly be a believable action hero. Here she comes across as campier and like a demented sidekick, but maybe that is part of the appeal.

Her performance makes the action scenes a little more hard to believe. When you have this more comedic character all of a sudden being a savior and out stoic hero. 

The film attempts to be experimental with not only the comic book panel cutaways but also a musical sequence that comes out of nowhere and probably helps cement the film’s cult classic status. Not to mention genetically altered kangaroo men.

The film was clearly made to be appealing more to teenagers and a female audience. Though it already had limited appeal as more of a cult comic book. Where the filmmakers and studio at the time hoped would come out and support the film and have at least that audience. 

Anytime the film risks getting too violent. Which can happen in a dystopian apocalyptic landscape. It cuts away, there is no abundance of bad language or adult situations that are hinted at but cut short. Even a slight Beastiality romance between a kangaroo-man and the lead is more hinted at than anything 

The film is also one of the earliest appearances of actress Naomi Watts in a supporting role. 

Though credit must be given to this film for offering diversity and representation across the board in the casting of the film.

During the film and by the end it will definitely feel like you are on some kind of psychedelic or drug. Think of it as a precursor to a studio film like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in wackiness and heroics. 

Grade: C+

THIS IS THE NIGHT (2021)

Written & Directed By: James DeMonaco
Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos
Editor: Keith Fraase 

Cast: Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Lucius Hoyos, Madelyn Cline, Chase Vacnin, Bobby Cannavale, River Alexander, Max Casella, Steve Lipman, Method Man, Lenny Venito, Jonah Hauer-King

A teenager living in Staten Island during the summer of 1982 embarks on a quest that draws in his family members.


This is a sweet coming-of-age film. It is earnest and tries to give you an overview of the neighborhood, families, times, and atmosphere. So that it feels more natural. Which in a way only exposes how false it is at times. The problem is that it feels way too familiar for the audience.

It tells the tale of a family throughout two days that will come to define them. Each member of the family has to deal with a challenge and we see how they deal with it and overcome it.

Even if most of the film is the adventure of the youngest son and his mission to tell the girl of his dreams happy birthday and that he loves her. With plenty of traps and roadblocks along the way.

The film works as far as nostalgia taking us to STATEN island during the 1980s and while that is fun. Even putting at the heart of the film is the debut of ROCKY III. Which inspired and ties the films and its character together.

The film still feels way too familiar. It’snWorth watching if not necessarily a film fan or for a younger audience, but it offers no surprises nor any reason to really stay invested.

As even when young ladies are willing to sneak them into a bar and give them plenty of drinks out of nowhere. You can tell something is not right and it feels too much of a scene from the warriors.

So that by the end this feels more like an Italian American inspired television movie and while it might be more autobiographical for the writer-director James DeMonaco

It also feels more like a movie that has a checklist and makes sure it goes through the list one by one and on schedule. As the teen adventures Seem a bit like an homage to THE WARRIORS.

Even when it comes to the bully getting their comeuppance you can’t wait. Even if the film makes you wait a bit too long and his girlfriend gives him up a little too easily. It just makes her seem that much more innocent despite her father being the local heavy 

Even in the part that involves a character coming out of the closet while it’s Appreciated that the character is confused and not sure about who they are exactly. Was it necessary for them to do it in drag? Maybe that was the truth for the character and how they choose to express themselves, but it offers up a bonding Experience. It also feels a bit stereotypical.  Especially when it comes to acceptance from others who are just a little too quick. So the true film feels cookie-cutter. As everything is resolved in the end a little too neatly and finally.

The cast is impressive and the bigger names get a chance to show off in certain roles we might not expect. Especially Method man who seems like he is playing a minor role but is one of importance later on and as a known resident of STATEN island it is nice to see him represent. 

It could easily be seen as ironic that the film in question At the center of this film is ROCKY III, but it shows no matter what might be universally thought of Something. If you can identify with characters that bring you peace, pride, or inspiration that is all that matters, and how some characters are icons to communities and bring them together on the same wavelength. 

Though Bobby Cannavale is left with a more stereotypical role. That can be said of half the cast. Though Frank Grillo gets to play a more dramatic role it still has him involved in a fight scene. 

In the end, the film can be entertaining. It just feels like you have seen it before and has been built off of other films you have seen and never quite feels itself or fresh. Even if it has its heart in the right place.

GRADE: C

FUNNY GAMES (2008) (REMAKE)

Written & Directed By: Michael Heneke 
Cinematography By: Darius Khondji 
Editor: Monika Willi 
Production Design: Kevin Thompson 
Art Direction: Hinju Kim 

Cast: Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearheart, Siobhan Fallon, Boyd Gaines 

In this English-language remake of a deconstruction in the way violence is portrayed in the media, a family settles into its vacation home, which happens to be the next stop for a pair of young, articulate, white-gloved serial killers on an excursion through the neighborhood.


Not as good as the original of course I think the real weakness of the film is not only going back and repeating something that was never wrong, to begin with just to expose it to a massive audience that might have not seen the film the first time just because it was in a foreign language.   

The remake doesn’t show growth but hey rockstars have to play their classic hits once in a while, Even with new band members. If they are willing to pay you to do it why not.


I think one other weakness this film has is that it is opened up more than the original, with more characters. Who are minor but it opens it up. which in the beginning was scarier and more intense because it was more intimate.


It’s not a shot-for-shot remake but is similar enough. Maybe the film doesn’t affect you because we already saw the original and know what’s going to happen. Whereas when you see the original it’s a shock and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Watching this is like watching an imitation even though it is by the same director. Maybe it is also because whereas there were no stars in the original. So anything could happen and It felt realistic. Seeing stars in this you know it’s just fake and doesn’t penetrate any of my emotions like it seems to be directed to. By bringing well-known actors into the film also gives them nothing to do but whimper in pain for two hours there are no great characters to play or great lines unless you have the villain’s role in this film.


you also notice that in the original the female star was in her underwear for a scene then gets clothed. Here Naomi Watts spends most of the movie in her underwear. Sure it’s great to look at but I guess it was meant to tap into American horror films as usually the females run around naked and in their underwear as they are stalked and killed rarely do they survive. In fact, there is no real violence shown only the aftermath. The only time there is violence it happens to one of the villains.


The main villain also doesn’t speak to the audience as much as he did in the original, maybe it was deemed annoying. The remote scene which seemed daring in the original seems like a gimmick here. Here in making it bigger, it is marketed as a thriller but shot like an art film with attention to detail and colors but with no real shown violence that the audience is waiting for.


It also plays with the conventions of films such as foreshadowing and making an excuse for the violent behavior, breaking the fourth wall, and the illusion that in the end, everything will turn out fine. The false hope that it can all turn around because that’s what happens in the film. They wouldn’t be that messed up.


It plays with the rules that you have come to expect and then just when you think it will follow narratives you have seen it switches it upon you.

The pacing also seems off that it makes the film almost seem boring. Some could look at it as satire. It is obviously a message movie because all that happens in the film makes you realize your own bloodlust and includes you as a co-conspirator in all that happens because you are sitting there watching for entertainment.

SPOILER:


Like the scene where Anna is then taken to the boat where she attempts to cut herself loose with the knife shown earlier in the film, only to have it taken from her as a way to mock the standard Hollywood foreshadowing. She is then dumped overboard and drowns as the two boys discuss school fiction and state the message of the film quite clearly by stating (in reference to a novel they read) “the family was real, the hero was in fiction”, demonstrating that violence is real and what occurs for entertainment happens in reality, however rising above the odds and becoming a hero only happens in fiction. And as a note, all of the killing is off-screen, this is a pro-reality but anti-violence film in its own brutal right

SPOILER END


Now I didn’t exactly write the last paragraph but it is summed up pretty well that I agree with it I say if you didn’t see the original this might be interesting but if you did you don’t really have to bother with this film. Trust me rent the original it’s a lot better.

GRADE: C

DEMOLITION (2016)

Directed By: Jean Marc-Vallee
Written By: Bryan Sipe
Cinematography By: Yves Balenger
Editor: Jay M.Glen

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, Polly Draper, Debra Monk, Heather Lind 

A successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. With the help of a customer service rep and her young son, he starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.


The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

This is one of those almost movies. That feels like it is almost o to something but seems to get lost before it can say ultimately what it wants to or before actually saying something profound.

The film stays off-center yet always pretty in its presentations the films end up feeling too designed like the products he dismantled to see how they work. Which the film tries to work in the same way. But seems too on the nose to be quirky and accepting as it seems to want to be offbeat.

A character study where the protagonist tries to find himself and ends up attracting other so-called misfits fighting to find and be themselves. While also trying to be seen as normal and fit in. Though really questioning what that is.

It is basically the main character having to dismantle and destroy his life to rebuild and start again. Which is why his character seeks to take things apart and study them. To see how they work and how they function.

The film is meant to be more of a character study which it achieves and as usual unfortunately also introduces characters more interesting than the lead. Who get scenes of depth and drama, but ultimately seem more like ornaments meant to distract and beautify the film add some flavor, but never really get to shine themselves.

Which is becoming more common in director Jean Marc-Vallee oveure of films. Presenting a kind of reality that always comes with some quirk or bigger than life or life-affirming meaning that seems more magnified than normal. Her he seems to go through realistic characters take on life and challenges as we watch to see their journey through it to the other side. More like emotional action movies with a sharp eye for visuals

It feels more a film about trying to win awards. Though there is some heart in here and tries to say something about the human condition. More about finding yourself. Here it seems like the character was already on that path. Only a tragedy happened that really opened his eyes and lead him to it.

The film feels transparent. It speaks to the audience as the film asks how are you supposed to react to tragedy? Is it disrespectful if in your reaction you aren’t emotional enough or know how exactly to feel? It’s not exactly Always textbook. As we are all individuals. So it Aldo’s how do you feel when what came before was almost on autopilot of what was expected but. Ever felt fulfilling, deserving so that it was almost a lie.

It feels like a film as all of the things that happen seem more announced. I can go with the suspension of disbelief, but when made so obvious it is hard.

This is a feel-good film, yet it becomes what it seems to want to avoid by becoming overbearing after a while.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s detached performance is what will win you over. As he is at total opposites at times but he keeps the film spirited and lively. Where he not only becomes the center of attention, but the most entertaining aspect of the film.

What is at least original is that the film doesn’t paint the main character as some kind of saint or hero. He freely admits his faults and the bad things in the past. It doesn’t praise his wife but makes them look more like a human coup going through the motions of a relationship and never really talking about their problems or dealing with them before this accident happens.

I wish the same could be said of Naomi watts character who is interesting. As her problems are laid bare, but her wrong decisions make her at least interesting when it comes to her character’s psychology. Even as we are used to Naomi watts playing these complicated characters. The character is there but the performance never quite catches on as it feels too plain when it might be better to showcase more of her at war with herself. Here her character keeps it maintained maybe due to her pot smoking. Which might regulate those feelings.

As his late wife throughout the movie haunts him and the other characters but we learn little about her though by the end she becomes more real for us in the audience to get more of a sense of her and not exactly the saint she has been made to be at the beginning. Just that something bad happened to her that she didn’t deserve. As with most of the characters. She was just trying to figure things out and all the people who believe they have it all figured out have comfort but aren’t necessarily being truthful to themselves or are rather simple The other aspect of the film that is eye-catching is the more modern designed clothing and appliances. That comes off shiny and smooth and provide the perfect facade, before revealing their grungy and dirty insides once explored.

Other Than the tragedy the film easily comes off as more middle-aged wish fulfillment than anything else.

Though the film does manage to win you over at certain points and feels personal to a degree when it’s supposed to.

GRADE: B-

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

birdman

Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written By: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo
Based On The Writings of: Raymond Carver
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editor: Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione

Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Merrit Wever, Damian Young, Paula Pell, Bill Camp, Stephen Adly Gurgis

Riggan Thomas, once known quite well to movie theater goers as an iconic super hero called “The Birdman” had recently turned down a third installment of the franchise. Now washed up, he attempts to reinvent himself as a director by staging a new retelling of a classic Broadway dramatic play called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The events leading up to the Saturday night premiere prove to be one disaster after another as the original lead actor is injured while on set and Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs – a method actor who takes the job way too seriously. But Riggan has a hard time juggling between the set, his replacement actor, his equally washed up daughter, and a host of other disasters that prevent a proper staging of the play. Meanwhile, a New York Times critic who Riggan has to woo threatens to shut down production of the play before it even starts with a scathing review of the dress rehearsal. Does Riggan have a hit on his hands or will he even make it to opening night?

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