Posts Tagged ‘gwyneth paltrow’

Possession (2002) – Neil LaBute (Dir.), Aaron Eckhart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hollander, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Queen Cersei, and some other British People.

Join us for the harrowing tale of poets and British and...(he collapses into sleep)

Join us for the harrowing tale of poets and British and…(he collapses into sleep)

Well, sometimes we decide on a movie to watch. Sometimes that movie is a turd so incapable of polishing that you soil yourself at the thought. And sometimes that movie is In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. It was my choice this time around and, after much arguing and whining, we decided that Uwe Boll’s tour de flatulence was simply too terrible for human viewing. Thusly, we were caught with a dilemma. We had the pizza. We had the people. We had the wine…well, we had way too much wine. The evening proceeded down the terrible, unending road of Flix-surfing. Every choice was an agony. Eventually, we discovered this little gem waiting at the bottom of the “Why the hell would anyone watch this movie?” pile. And, boys and girls, we were not disappointed…in that we were completely fucking disappointed. This was one of the most boring movies of all time. Starring Aaron “The Chin” Eckhart and Gwyneth “The Reason For All Evil in the Universe” Paltrow, this picture by Neil LaBute is so fucking boring that we decided to talk about something else entirely. Namely: bees. So, enjoy us being drunk and shitting on G-Palt. Because, seriously, she deserves it.

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Iron Man 3 (2013) – Shane Black (Dir.), Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce

In Marvel-land, RDJ holds the orgasms for the ladies.

In Marvel-land, RDJ holds the orgasms for the ladies.

Yes! The summer begins! And I’m still wearing a scarf outside! Go home, Chicago, you are drunk. As per usual, Marvel rolls out its initial super-tank of a mutherfucker before any of the other paltry ‘real’ studios have a chance to even start advertising. With The Avengers snagging the “Wait, I thought summer started after Memorial Day” slot, they, as always, set the box office ticker high for their competition and then laugh through the rest of the summer season at their piddling contenders like some kind of bejeweled warlord in a gladiatorial ring of cinematic crappery. This year, they have bequeathed us yet another entry into the Downey Jr. Motor-Mouth Olympics. Yes, the most loquacious of lotharios is back in the titular dress of ferric properties ready to do battle with an awkwardly porn star/Bin Laden-esque and awfully accented super villain, The Mandarin. So, after the mind-blowing brilliance of The Avengers, anything following in its wake is going to look as explosive as a ladybug’s fart. Does Iron Man 3 live up to the hype? Is it a worthy addition to the money-sucking juggernaut that is Marvel Studios? Does it stay true to the comic instead of pissing in the face of every comic fan ever to greasily thumb through an edition of Iron Man?

Nope.

Okay, let’s get this straight. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Mr. Black, our hidden hand taking over from Happy Hogan, Jon “Candy-Ass” Favreau, and inserting his own unironically termed pitch-black-humor, does a decent job of keeping the action moving and the audience guessing. Haunted by the events of The Avengers, our dickish hero, Tony “Winter Isn’t Coming” Stark suffers panic attacks and spends his nights tinkering in his infinitely-resourced basement lab. What haunting events, you might ask? No idea. The guy seemed stoked about schwarma. Anyhoo, a new threat has appeared in the form of Osama Bin Laden if he was a film student at NYUs special education department. He teaches ham-fisted lessons about fortune cookies while sending exploding veterans into heavily populated areas. All the while, a slicked and uncomfortably tan Guy Pearce is putting the moves on Pepper Potts and also…spitting fire? What the fuck?

"I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!" ~ Ben Kingsley, not so secret R. Kelly fan.

“I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away!” ~ Ben Kingsley, not so secret R. Kelly fan.

There are some things that Black gets extremely right. In the past (*cough* Iron Man 2 *cough*) the tension drains from the films the second Downey Jr. slips into his metal badassness-enhancer. Instantly, we know that the guy is safe from harm and can dispatch between 20 and six thousand bad guys without breaking a sweat. This is why the second half of the second movie becomes as exciting as watching your younger brother suck at Halo. I mean…things explode and the graphics are nice, but are we supposed to care? Here, with the addition of the piecemeal Mark 42 (where they milk the silly Xbox Kinect-esque gesture commands joke for all it’s fucking worth), we find our hero seriously under-tooled and outgunned for a majority of the movie. Especially with our enemies’ supposed invulnerability and the ability to force a superheated fist through his thorax, suddenly the fight sequences take on a more intelligent edge. Probably the most pulse-pounding section involved a microwave, a gallon of gasoline, a tank of propane and the world’s most unattractive hottest woman. Black has been writing action movies for long enough (he wrote the unintentionally prescient Mel Gibson biography Lethal Weapon and Long Kiss Goodnight) that he knows how to take a worn-out formula and shove a thousand volts up its ass. What apparently eludes him, however, is even the most basic sense of thematic through-line.

What makes Black’s writing so enjoyable is also its greatest weakness. His dark-as-a-Sith-Lord-with-a-case-of-the-Mondays humor keeps his characters spewing witticisms left and right, whilst simultaneously turning every single person on screen into an incorrigible asshat. Stark, while an untouchable yet lovable douche in the previous movies, takes some dives into the awful-person end of the pool. I’m not sure if Shane Black has children, but if his writing is any indication, they are some of the most patriarchally-ridiculed kids on the playground. Thanksgiving dinners must be a no man’s land of emotional land-mines and bladed conversation. I imagine that his children, when they first rode a bike five minutes without falling over and splitting the skin on their knees for the thirtieth time, looked to their father searching for some kind of pride or approval only to receive a, “good job, you little turd”. The same could be said for the action. While varied, explosive and pretty across the board, there is little place for emotional movement. I mean, the final battle takes place in a shipyard solely due to the fact that Shane Black’s obsession with bland backdrops from the 90s. Much like the mid-movie bone-crunching foray in The Dark Knight Rises, we could have seen Stark as totally vulnerable without his tools. We could have seen a man coming to terms with his morality. Instead, the guy is just as nimble and tree-frog like in his aerial skills as he is with the weaponry, bullshit panic-attack side plot aside. The whole thing reeks of hollowness.

I got that bitch a plaid suit. Bitches love plaid suits.

I got that bitch a plaid suit. Bitches love plaid suits.

Now, there are some twists that, honestly, really got me. So, unless you have seen or have no desire at all to see this movie, please skip ahead. It will seriously hamper your enjoyment.

***SPOILERS***

Alright, are the laggards gone? Delightful. So, to those of you who don’t give a fuck, the Mandarin doesn’t exist. Perhaps the most hilarious turn in the history of silly British accents has Ben Kingsley drunkenly stumble from a bathroom warning his two prostitutes not to go in due to the major shit he just took. It is probably the biggest choice Black makes with this film/this entire franchise, which is both appreciated and despised. It turns out that Pearce, that orange mutherfucker, has created the Mandarin to explain his experiments accidentally, you know, vaporizing innocent bystanders. Kingsley, perhaps type-cast, is simply a druggie actor kept hidden from the public eye in a place where you’d probably find most of the worlds greatest blemishes on the permanent record: Miami. Such a massive shift in plot and expectation causes feedback, some good, some bad. The good: suddenly the film has something flirting with a ‘message’, you know, that pesky thing that is really why art exists in the first place. America creates its own demons…literally. What is a better cover-up for a national fuck up than an international threat? This ties nicely into the fact that Stark blames himself for Pearce’s turbo-dick genesis. It also solves the insanely racist ‘Mandarin’ problem that went the way of the fucking bigoted dodo back in the mid-70s. Having a Fu Manchu-esque sorcerer attacking America with a mystical dragon isn’t going to win us any points on the UN security council.

However, like the second name in the Clint Eastwood murder-everyone classic, we have ‘the bad’: by eradicating The Mandarin from the Marvel universe, Black has made a choice that, instead of spawning more choices, has torn off that plot limb from the Avengers’ massive creative trunk. Not only that, but he has just urinated in the faces of pretty much every comic book fan to have ever dreamed of donning the suit. There is no way a sequel could expand from this world and no way to head further down the imaginative rabbit hole Mr. Joss “King of the World and Not in a Dumb Titanic Way” Whedon opened last summer. It cut this baby into a one-off nugget of purest unimportance. Funny it may be.

***SPOILERS OVER***

Alright. To sum up, on the one hand you have lovers of film apathetic to the details of a goofy comic rag; and, on the other, you have a fanbase so die hard they would save an entire Nakatomi Plaza from terrorists in response to even the slightest of minute factual snubs. The movie, on the whole, let’s itself down. When you have Chase from 24 (remember season 3? Kim’s boyfriend? Anyone? Anyone?) douchily chewing gum while slicing a fucking Iron Man suit in half with a super-heated karate chop, that’s some fucking imagery to work with. However, Mr. Black seems to simply see the world as it is and makes no attempt at allowing ‘art’ to get in the way of his ‘awesome’. And that’s fine. It’s just not good. Yes, you could choose the pasta dish with a fine mix of herbs, tossed with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, topped with a meat so tender you’d think Barry White had serenaded it for an evening before placing it in the pan; or you could choose the mac and cheese dusted with parmesan and bacon bits. Both tasty. But one nourishes, while the other becomes an inevitable and slushy date with the porcelain goddess at number 2 poop lane. With something so imagistically fertile as evil fire-douches and as politically potent as Osama Bin Laden/PTSD/veteran post war anti-patriotism, you’d think Black could have crafted something as least menially thought-provoking. But this thing is about a thought-provoking as Keyboard Cat. You watch him, you laugh, you question humanity and it’s purpose for existence seeing as you are laughing at a fucking cat playing a fucking keyboard.

Look at that adorable little shit. Giggle, you fools, GIGGLE!

…But then you click on the next Buzzfeed article because, fuck it, it’s Friday. Ain’t no work getting done today.

The Informant! (2009) – Steven Soderbergh (Dir.), Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Tony Hale, Joel McHale

He’s so happy! YEAH! (slow motion high-five followed by inexplicable explosion)

Once again, we stand at the ever-changing gates of the Soderbergh, our hands quivering as we reach for the handle, unsure of what dangers, what wonders might lurk within. Will it be a taught, engrossing exploration of drag-trafficking? Perhaps a porn star known for anal play ‘acting’? What about a sexy and stylish heist movie featuring Brad Pitt eating? What about a sequel to that movie packed with famous cameos and yet it’s utterly lifeless and bland? Maybe even the greatest cinematic jewel of all, the utter cranial mutilation of Gwyneth Paltrow? The only way to discover what awaits us is to duck our heads and charge into the thematically/stylistically muddled mind of Mr. Soder-Is-He-Pretentious?-Probably-bergh.

What do we have here? It is certainly one of the oddest movies I’ve witnessed in a while, its utter strangeness existing not only in the head of its lead character, but carefully woven throughout every fabric of this insane pastiche of styles and tones. On the surface this is a by-the-numbers tale of befuddled corporate espionage, but what really lies beneath is something far more disconcerting. While watching this with my sister Hannah, (who, for the record, has been my favorite house guest of the year (sorry Mom, Dad, Alex, college friends etc. (also, I’m aware that I just put a parenthetical within a parenthetical (yes, and I just did it again, just remember PEDMAS and you should be fine. That is, unless I start throwing about exponentials willy-nilly – ha. Willy.))) because whenever I asked “What do you want to do?” she replied with “Fuck, I’m in my thirties and I’m married. Get me wine and take out.” It was the best.) I was immediately consumed by a thick veil of bemusement. Matt Damon’s mesmerizing portrayal of real-life whistle-blower Mark Whitacre takes center stage instantly with his hair-Inception, a toupee-on-top-of-bald-cap-on-top-of-luscious-Damon-mane. We’re thrust into the center of a price-fixing scheme with the dastardly folks in agra-business, the people almost directly responsible for what is misleadingly named the Omnivore’s Dilemma (I picked up that book really hoping for it to be the long lost sequel to Jurassic Park. I was disappointed. And horrified. CORN WILL KILL US ALL); we’re served wire-tapping, blackmail, viruses destroying product, a whole panoply of plot-points so perfectly preposterous they’d give Michael Crichton a boner.

“You want to put that pineapple where?” ~ Matt Damon, discovering that Texas S&M and Texas A&M are NOT the same thing.

Here’s the thing: none of it makes sense. It’s like watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy where a good two thirds of the tale feel as though they’ve been hacked out in the interest in time. We never see the antecedents to these intricacies, leaving everyone in the audience scratching their skulls and grasping at straws. Soon, the FBI are brought in and Whitacre turns into the exclamatory agent of the title, dishing the dirt on his crooked coworkers and dragging his company through the metaphorical muck. Scott “That Dude Who Sometimes Goes to Other Dimensions And Looks Like Other Dudes” Bakula is the hapless and helpless agent dragged along on the goose chase of insanity, also bringing along a terrifyingly not-Jeff-Winger-and-not-making-fun-of-celebrity-wastes-of-existence Joel McHale. It becomes clear as the mystery deepens and the plot thickens and the milk curdles and the hand shakes the barley, that the audience isn’t the only party left in the dark. In fact, everyone is. One by one, they all start tumbling into the pit of crazy that is Mr. Damon. Piece by piece, the fabric unravels revealing the deeper truths. Yes, this is technically a spoiler, but it doesn’t matter. This ain’t about plot. This is about crazy. This is about a man who fundamentally doesn’t understand concepts such as ’empathy’, ’emotional causality’, ‘trust’ and ‘honesty’. You know all those narrative threads that didn’t seem to coalesce into anything resembling sense? Yeah, they didn’t happen. It was fabricated. Everything. Matt Damon is, in actuality, a dirty liar, liar whose pants are perpetually on fire. What Soderbergh does so skillfully is draw you into the mind of a man who misses the basics of human emotion on several essential levels. The more we look into his mind, the more confused we see that he is. Once the other shoe FINALLY drops, smashing through of window of sensibility we’ve come to assume from the world of this movie, everything is called into question. Nothing Damon says can be trusted (I feel like that’s a good rule for life. NEVER TRUST MATT DAMON. He knows what he did.)

“Hi, my name is Joel McHale and I’m looking for the set of Community and…wait…Mr. Soderbergh…I DON’T WANT TO DO YOUR MOVIE! NOOOOO!” ~ True story.

Once again, this bad boy is all style over substance, as will of Soderbergh ventures. Luckily, this is some good substance. Though the movie is set in the early nineties, almost every frame seems stolen from a 70s spy flick, taking what is, at its basic level completely banality, and elevating it to a camp extreme. It’s as though Matt Damon is constantly singing his own theme song in his head and we, the audience, get to hear it. There are glaringly obstructive musical cues during even the most uninteresting scenes of people walking down hallways or driving through the mid-west. The exclamation point hidden within the title is the perfect punctuation for this tale. It is the overwhelming sense of extremity flooding every aspect of this movie, an unnecessary weight paid to what is essentially a failed court case. In any other hands this would have been a dirge of such yawnful proportions that the FDA could have graded it a lethal horse tranquilizer. But it isn’t in anyone else’s hands. This is a Soderbergh. This is no tale about how US agriculture is ruled by the greedy monolithic corporations dragging us into an Inferno of obesity and poor health. This is about the labyrinthine workings of Mr. Whitacre’s brain and how utterly confuzzling the whole thing is.

Possibly the best example of his misunderstanding is when, after wearing wires and implicitly sending all of his coworkers to jail, he declares that after all of the dust has settled, he’ll be CEO. Bakula looks at him with a visage of pure befuddlement and says, “Mark…you won’t be able to work at this company again. You’ll have destroyed it.” We see Mr. Damen’s face, we see it hear, calculate and keep it’s resolve, its impenetrable crazy. It is the face of the girl that shows up at your door at 3am asking why you didn’t propose on the second date. It is the face of a serial killer after being told that having seven severed legs stocked in his closet isn’t normal. It’s the face of something beyond us, a being with a cloud of comprehension constrained to a plane of existence that is not our own.

“Man, this VHS has incredible visual quality!” The 90s, a simpler time.

This movie is confusing, hilarious and bizarre. See it. Also, I wish everyone had jumped in the air and freeze-framed in high-five position while the end credits rolled. That would have been way better. But then again, I want that ending for every movie (notable exception: Schindler’s List).

Contagion (2011) – Steven Soderbergh (Dir.), Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, that guy from Just Shoot Me, John Hawkes, Dmitry Martin… pretty much everyone ever

Notice how everyone looks normal except for G-Palt who has on possessed-fucked-up face.

What is a horror film? What constitutes terror on the silver screen? Is it some large-breasted sophomore screaming something between bloody murder and a regular night at the frat house while, instead of prime Ivy League sausage, she’s being impaled with a knife, or a hook, or a machete or a pick axe or a tire iron…I guess. Or is it something else? There’s frightening and there’s scary. There are things that make you feel uneasy as the music swells, as the camera dips into a darkness only reserved for back-alley senatorial meetings in a public restroom. You know death and pain is coming, the only question is when. It does, inevitably. You jump a little. Maybe it’s a little more grotesque than you were expecting, sure. Maybe you wander from the movie theater and double check your Minnie Mouse night light before heading to bed. That’s ‘horror’.

And there are movies like this. They pray on intellect, on the human nature of taking civilization for granted. There are no vampires, no werewolves, no teenage girls biting her lip and trying to decide between the two. There are no hockey masks. There are no girls crawling out of movie screens and creating the surrealist movement across some poor schmuck filmmaker’s face (go see The Ring. It’s great). No, there is simply an idea. A virus. We’ve never seen it before and it spreads. Everywhere. The scenario put forth by this film cuts under the skin, burrowing into the grey matter, planting as Leo DiCaprio would say “an idea, something that can’t be killed”. And even he can’t leap into your brain and stop the top from spinning.

Here she is making the “Hey, I just remembered, I’m Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow” face.

This is true horror. This is the kind of film that undercuts everything you’ve ever assumed about your existence. Now I question my safety whenever someone sneezes, shakes my hand, touches my face, makes out with me, rubs my thigh, starts to unbutton…wait, wrong movie. Point is: everything will kill you.

You’ve heard of Steven Soderbergh. Even if you haven’t, you have. The guy is everywhere and yet nowhere. Like a ghost. Sometimes he’s a good one like in Harry Potter or that movie with the ghost played by Patrick Swayze in it that gropes Demi Moore in the middle of a perfectly good pot-making session and gets Whoopi Goldberg a fucking oscar. It’s all about ghosts. You know, The Exorcist. Sometimes Mr. Soderbergh makes Ocean’s 11 and Sex, Lies and Videotape. And then, sometimes, he makes Full Frontal and Ocean’s 12. Sometimes he’s a different kind of ghost, the one that reaches into your body and rips out your soul while you’re in the bath or makes clowns come alive or steals your children through televisions. Like in that one movie, Babe: Pig in the City.

Well, we lucked out here. Apparently he called EVERYONE he knew and told them, “Hey assholes, be in my movie.” Who do we have? We have the bad lady from Inception taking a break from haunting Leo DiCaprio and instead helping children in China. We have that lady who hogged that last piece of broken boat at the end of Titanic before knocking frozen popsicle-Leo into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. She’s doing a serviceable American accent, which is nice. We have Dr. Watson being a douchebag with an Aussie accent. We have Morpheus basically playing black-scientist Jesus, a man so impervious to bad things that he NEVER does anything wrong EVER. Like…seriously, it’s ridiculous. He’s just a nice dude. The list continues…even the meth dealer from Breaking Bad shows up, having entered the military to simply spout exposition.
Finally, we have the arguable star: Mr. Matt Damon. Taking time away from saying ‘MATT DAMON’ and being an all around stand-up guy, he becomes that character who’s immune. Sporting a pedo-stache and a shotgun, he goes around protecting his daughter and crying over his dead wife. He’s excellent in this film and yet, for his wonderful chops (and good acting skills too…see what I did there? I’m saying he’s a pretty dude, people. And look at him…he’s adorable) he is entirely upstaged by Mrs. Coldplay herself, G-Palt.

Here she is making the, “I dated Ben Affleck? Really?” face.

Oh Gwyneth. Did you lose a bet? Owe Soderbergh money for some high-stakes murder challenge that you rich people inevitably enjoy between ridiculing the poor and causing legal disputes with your children’s names? She’s in the film alive for all of ten minutes. We see her with a fever. And then have seizures. Then puke everywhere. Then, after a doctor nonchalantly divulges that she fucking died, you think the pretty-woman-puke-fest is over. Oh kids, strap in, the fun has only just begun. We get to see them OPEN HER HEAD. She’s sitting right there with her head fucking open. I imagine Mr. Soderbergh resting in his director’s chair, supping on the blood of the innocent while chasing it with holy water (man is a dichotomy, it’s mind-boggling) ordering “More pus. Also, when you crack open her skull I want to see more disgust. Like when you heard Coldplay’s last album for the first time. Yep, that’s it! ACTION.”

This film is good. Not great. It never quite elevated itself above “disease-porn”, a subgenre only really applicable to this and Outbreak. At least we didn’t have fucking monkeys and Dustin Hoffman set to ‘crazy rant-speak mode’. At least there was no ‘WE HAVE TO FIND THE MONKEY THAT STARTED IT ALL’ bullshit and then miraculously manufacture a cure within THREE HOURS. My dad is a pharmacist. I call bullshit. This movie really set out to deal with the real-world implications of how this kind of epidemic might manifest in the times of international travel and massive city congestion. Even more appropriate that I watched it on a plane (making it actually 27% worse than it is in reality. Not bad, right?). Yes, there are some absurd sequences. No, a researcher wouldn’t simply inject herself with a vaccine the second she sees it work on a monkey. No, Dmitry Martin is not allowed to do anything other than smug twee comedy after hours on Comedy Central. I don’t want that man anywhere near an infectious disease.

This is the face she makes every time she remembers she was in “Shallow Hal”.

It fulfilled its purpose. Mr. Soderbergh, as he so often does, defined his thesis and then proved it to the best of his ability. Of course the ending is trite shite. At least it begs thoughtfulness, actually considering the effects of such an outbreak on a global scale rather than keeping it entirely USA-centric. Granted…we didn’t really see anything from the other countries other than about twenty seconds of London and the Chinese guys who kidnap Cotillard in exchange for a vaccine. Still…they get points for trying, right? Right? The World Health Organization was mentioned a couple of times. And the bad guy had an Australian accent.

Good job, guys. Your multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-national attempt burned and sank to the bottom of the xenophobic sea, settling next to wonders such as Deep Impact (not the porn, the one with Morgan Freeman as president) and Independence Day. At least you tried. Maybe next time.