The Counselor is a mess

counselor_posterIt reminds me of The Lone Ranger, actually. It’s too well made, too well-intentioned and too ambitious to call “bad”, and sometimes it succeeds in its goals and is occasionally engaging, but overall, Ridley Scott’s The Counselor is a mess, and falls somewhere on the spectrum between “not good” and “ambitious debacle”. Written by arguably one of the best living American authors, Cormac McCarthy, The Counselor wants to be the kind of cautionary morality tale for which McCarthy is renowned (he wrote the novels No Country for Old Men and The Road—among many others—though this is his first feature film script), but mostly it’s just a murky, directionless plot peopled by barely-there characters with myriad mysterious motivations. Continue reading “The Counselor is a mess”

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Haywire: Not awful. Gina Carano: Also not bad

I’m tellingly unenthusiastic about Haywire, Steven Soderbergh’s latest, “Hey that chick is cool, I want to make a movie for her” project (last time it was The Girlfriend Experience with porn star Sasha Grey, which is easily one of the top 10 worst movies I’ve ever seen). Crafted for female MMA star Gina Carano, Haywire is appealingly slick and appropriately paced—it runs at a swift 90 minutes—but it left me a bit hollow, probably because it had no plot.

First and foremost, this movie was meant to introduce us to Gina Carano: Action Heroine. For the most part, this worked. I accept Carano as an action star. She’s watchable and she definitely sells the physical stuff. I am not saying this as a knock on her weight or anything—Carano is NOT fat—but it’s nice to see a woman on screen that actually looks like she could kick a man and it would hurt. She’s substantial. There are muscles. And, what interested me most—she used a lot of leverage in her fight scenes. In most movies with female action characters, the chick fights just like a man. Throws a punch like a man, moves like a man, reacts like a man. But let’s be honest—women don’t fight like men. We move differently. We have a different range of motion. Carano’s fight scenes repeatedly show her using leverage to increase her force and propulsion so she can take down men bigger than her. She isn’t doing fancy parkour tricks because it looks cool, but because bouncing off that wall is going to boost her momentum so she can knock that guy down. It was visually and characteristically pleasing. Continue reading “Haywire: Not awful. Gina Carano: Also not bad”

Shame is the most unsexy movie about sex you’ll ever see

If you’re going into Steve McQueen’s (Hunger) Shame expecting lots of sexy scenes with Michael Fassbender having sex, you’re in for a disappointment. Yes, there’s a lot of naked Fass Ass and yes, there’s a lot of sex, but no, it’s no sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not even pretty movie sex. At one point, Brandon (Fassbender) is crying during a threesome and not tears of, “Oh man, my dreams are coming true,” but tears of, “I hate myself and I don’t want to be doing this anymore”. Fassbender absolutely makes Shame, much as he did his first collaboration with McQueen, Hunger, and he gives a performance that sets the high watermark for his career very, very high. This is the male lead performance of the year, just barely edging past Peter Mullan in Tyrannosaur for the most powerfully affecting performance from a leading actor. All the good and great bits of Shame are down to Fassbender. Take him away and the movie doesn’t actually have a lot going on. Continue reading “Shame is the most unsexy movie about sex you’ll ever see”

X-Men: First Class – what good actors get you

First, I liveblogged the MTV Movie Awards last night with the ladies from LaineyGossip. You can read the transcript here if you scroll down to “Sunday”. I spent half the night defending Ryan Gosling and Kristen Stewart. Lainey recapped our KStew fight here. I need some support on this as I am alone in my opinion (on LaineyGossip, anyway) that Stewart is hardly a “problem starlet” just because she’s awkward in public. Also, the show was painfully boring and host Jason Sudeikis (SNL, Horrible Bosses) failed to deliver in any significant way. My host-vote for next year: Donald Glover, Mindy Kaling or Danny Pudi. Or Joel McHale? Discuss. My favorite part of the night was a pre-show bit with MTV entertainment guy Joshua Horowitz and James McAvoy. Goddamn that accent is sexy. Continue reading “X-Men: First Class – what good actors get you”