About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Review: I’m So Excited!


A flight from Madrid to Mexico is fraught with technical problems with the plane’s landing gear that force it to keep circling the air until a landing strip can be found. Inside the plane, the flight attendants have doped the economy class passengers for some reason, whilst we come to know the crew and the first class passengers. The three gay flight attendants (Javier Camara among them) attempt to provide camp cabaret entertainment for the first class passengers, whilst we also learn about the sexual orientation and affairs of the bisexual but married pilot (Antonio de la Torre) and his supposedly straight co-pilot (Hugo Silva). The former, by the way, is having an affair with Camara. Amongst the passengers we have Cecilia Roth as an infamous high-price hooker, José Luis Torrijo as a shonky banker probably about to get nabbed by the authorities, and Lola Dueñas as a dopey, virginal psychic.

 

On the ground Paz Vega and Blanca Suárez play the two women in the life of womanising passenger Guillermo Toledo, the former of whom is suicidal. So when Toledo calls Vega from the airplane phone and they somehow get cut off, he starts to panic that she may have jumped to her death. However, Vega has simply dropped her phone off the balcony accidentally, and it lands, you guessed it, right near Toledo’s previous girlfriend Suárez who happened to be cycling by, so when Suárez calls the last dialled number, Toledo asks her to find out if Vega is OK. Awkward much?

 

Spain’s cinematic bad boy turned critics’ darling Pedro Almodovar (“All About My Mother”, “Talk to Her”, “Dark Habits”) follows up his best film to date, “The Skin I Live In” with one of his worst films since his tedious debut film “Pepi, Luci, and Bom”. This flimsy excuse for a spoofy soap opera from 2013 is almost a complete waste of time. It’s as if Almodovar got drunk one weekend whilst watching “Flying High!” (or “Airplane!” depending on your location) and “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and in a drunken stupor, scribbled down some dopey ideas, turning it into a film. And what a paltry, subpar film it is, even worse than the silly and overrated “Volver”. I mean, why bring up the subplot of the mentally unstable mistress only to drop the character straight away? That was actually the only interesting part of the film, and Almodovar throws it away like it’s nothing. Make it about the mistress and the wife, and you’ve got a considerably more interesting film than what happens up on the plane. Instead, we get ridiculous scenes of passengers being allowed to hang out in the cockpit- and not just one at a time. If the director had bothered to stay in one lane (either serious or funny), perhaps that might’ve improved things, but as is, ideas like the crew drugging passengers, and the virginal middle-aged woman pretty much raping a male passenger just aren’t funny, they’re ridiculous.

 

It’s like Almodovar wanted to bring out his bad boy side, but not full-on, instead we get half-arsed and unfunny. Almodovar warns us at the outset that this is fantasy, but that’s his rationale for giving us stupid shit that isn’t remotely believable like the irritating psychic virgin lady. It’s a nice-looking and colourful film, and although I’m 100% hetero, I do have to admit that I rather like the Pointer Sisters (I swear that ‘I’m So Excited’ is the dirtiest song of all-time to get mainstream airplay. The song’s about the ‘Big O’, right?). The big musical number is indeed amusing, mostly to see these guys performing in such a confined space. Javier Camara, meanwhile, is much more likeable here than in his previous stint with Almodovar, the uneven “Broken Embraces”. His inability to keep his trap shut is quite funny. But he and the camp crew can’t carry a film on their own. There’s some amusing moments here and there, but not nearly enough.

 

If you want vintage, risqué Almodovar, watch “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” or “The Skin I Live In”. This is perhaps his most disposable film to date (including the useless cameos by Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz), and almost kind of insulting that this is all he has given us. Not good enough, not nearly good enough at all. I’m So Disappointed!

 

Rating: C-

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review: Little City


Set in San Francisco, where it’s meant to be like a small-town thing where everybody has dated everybody, and you can’t escape them. It centres around several characters who go in and out of various romantic couplings as they journey towards finding whatever and whoever it is they want in life. Womanising bartender Jon Bon Jovi and painter/cabbie (!) Josh Charles are best buds, but the former’s affair with the latter’s girlfriend (Annabella Sciorra) blows that out of the water. Charles, meanwhile, still hasn’t gotten over his ex, Joanna Going. Going decided that she preferred the company of women, and has become involved with her older art teacher (JoBeth Williams). Williams, a bit of a temptress, has a wandering eye and moves in on insecure Penelope Ann Miller (who was just hired as a bartender alongside Mr. Jovi. Or is it Mr. Bon Jovi?), giving the latter her first lesbian experience (Something Ms. Williams’ character has apparently done for plenty of other straight girls). Get ready for a relationship merry-go-round, folks.

 

More like “Small Movie”, this 1997 indie relationships movie from first-time writer-director Roberto Benabib wastes a pretty decent cast in one of the most contrived screenplays you’ll ever encounter. Certainly not one of the more interesting or accomplished Miramax indie flicks, that’s for sure. Although Annabella Sciorra is a tad shouty at times, and Jon Bon Jovi isn’t asked to do all that much, there isn’t a bad performance to be found here. It’s the script that’s entirely to blame here. This is best exemplified by a scene where Penelope Ann Miller and JoBeth Williams (in quite possibly the strangest sexual coupling since “Harold and Maude”, possibly since Ronald Reagan and Bonzo- what?) have just had sex. They have an inorganic post-coital discussion about the difference between having sex with a man and having sex with a woman. It’s not remotely convincing, sexy, funny, or interesting. Miller and the supremely underrated Williams (despite a heavy-handed ‘butch’ haircut) are both really good here, but they can’t do much with this shit that is too clever by half...but not as clever as it thinks it is. Miller’s character alternates between really appealing and for the love of God woman, would you please shut the fuck up. You’ve just had sex, there’s no need to psychoanalyse it.

 

It’s also annoying how all of these characters’ lives are interconnected, which is where the title comes in. That doesn’t make it clever, just annoying, contrived, and clichéd. When it comes time for all of these relationships to change and swap all at about the same convenient time, things have truly been overworked up to buggery. Even less clever is that the person that these characters want to be with only wants to be with them at the exact same time that first person has entered a relationship with someone new. It’s contrived, but also extremely repetitive. Mr. Benabib obviously thinks it’s clever that two of the three girls Josh Charles’ character has been involved with have slept with JoBeth Williams. It’s ironic, sure, but not clever. It just makes him look like the biggest loser on the planet.

 

The worst part of the film for me, though, was when one character got pregnant and it could be one of the two leading men as the father. ***** IF YOU THINK THAT WAS A SPOILER, BEST NOT READ THIS THEN ***** That’s contrived, but what really shat me was that this situation was resolved in the worst way possible unless you’re a pro-lifer: So you’re getting married to Mr. Jovi, and that means you don’t need to find out who the father is? Fuck you, lady. It’s not all about YOU. It’s about the kid, should you choose to have it, and you need to know which of these two perfectly OK guys is its father. What an awful, selfish woman, and seemingly the filmmaker approves of her actions, too. ***** END SPOILER *****

 

The best performances here come from Miller, Williams, and a surprisingly solid Joanna Going. I assumed she had spending her time since “Inventing the Abbotts” hanging out with Shannyn Sossamon, Gretchen Mol, Natasha Gregson-Wagner, and all the other 90s it-girls who never quite made it, but apparently she’s doing quite well on TV’s “House of Cards” these days. I’ve always thought JoBeth Williams should’ve been a bigger deal than she has been (much like Christine Lahti, Annabeth Gish, and Amber Heard), so it’s always good to see her, even in something like this. She’s the best thing in the film. However, Benabib doesn’t seem to like her character, she’s presented as kind of a ‘player’, and unlike the similar character played by Mr. Bon Bon, she doesn’t get any added complexity. It’s almost as if he approves of Bon Jovi’s character and disapproves of Williams’. I also have to say that Annabella Sciorra and even Penelope Ann Miller both seem too old for Josh Charles. And indeed Sciorra is almost 10 years older, with Miller about 7 years older. Sometimes you can get away with that, especially if something is actually made of the age difference, but here the age difference is noticeable yet never referred to.

 

It’s an extremely contrived and quite pretentious film, and not insightful or fresh enough to get away with it. Small movie. Really, really small.

 

Rating: D+