Sunday, May 6, 2012

30 Second Reviews: We Have a Pope (C+), Declaration of War (B+), The Cabin in the Woods (A-), The Last Screening (D)

When around a month passes, and I'm still struggling to put out a review, I try to cut losses by writing a quick one in only a couple of sentences so at least something related to the film gets posted. It's time for a couple of mildly disappointing 30 Second Reviews! Also, one year Film Crazy anniversary! Wahoo! Thanks for a great first year everybody, and hope the second is gonna be just as amazing!

We Have a Pope

Michel Piccoli stars as a self-doubting Vatican cardinal, who against all odds is elected to become the pope, in this surprisingly secular Italian comedy, directed by and costarring Nanni Moretti (The Son's Room). Essentially the anti-underdog film, Moretti uses the great majority of the film as a light character study into Piccoli's newly appointed pope; a man who feels he is undoubtably the wrong choice for the position, and cannot fathom as to why God chose him. However, rather than using the narrative opportunity to examine this character's relationship with his faith, thus giving more insight as to why he struggles to accept the occupation God chose him for, Moretti instead chooses turn the film into an offbeat fish-out-of-water comedy as Piccoli escapes the Vatican, and wonders about Rome. Though there're some memorable comedic bits (an opening scene depicting a fictional pope election works particularly well), the film keeps disregarding any attempts at real drama; favoring wholesome "Let's see what happens when the uptight cardinals do this modern activity!" comedy instead. At best a lukewarm comedy with an occasional memorable scene; at worst a blown opportunity to portray an internal crisis far beyond normal self-doubt.

Grade: C+

Declaration of War

Jeremie Elkaim and Valerie Donzelli had already achieved an incredible accomplishment even before the film began: Almost entirely on their own, they both dually directed, wrote, acted in, wrote the music for, and even provided make-up work for this film. A modern "hipster" version of the traditional "Child with terminal illness; whole family helps" weeper drama, Declaration of War is almost entirely the product of these two auteur's efforts. While as said before, the film is already quite an accomplishment, it could be considered to be an even greater success because of the quality of their creation.   It's an effective French drama replete excellent performances from its cast, beautiful cinematography (the final scene on a beach is particularly memorable), and both a cool alternative soundtrack and Amelie styled narration which successfully brings the film out of the occasional draggy patch. This is, for the most part, just an overall excellent movie.

Grade: B+

The Cabin in the Woods

The meta horror-comedy you've already probably heard way too much about, even though all these reviews are already fairly brief, this'll be even shorter as to not regurgitate the consensus too much. The Cabin in the Woods is just as inventive as just about every critic seems to be painting it out to be, and while it isn't necessarily very scary should be sought out. However, there's been a surprising lack of acclaim for Fran Kranz's performance as Marty, otherwise known as the stoner stereotype. He's hilarious, and subverts his stereotype to the point where he's not only believable as a flesh-and-blood human being, but is also one of the most likable characters on the big screen in a long time. If it's still playing somewhere near you, The Cabin in the Woods is a must watch.

Grade: A-

The Last Screening
(included as part of the "Summer of Scares" feature)

French director Laurent Achard's meta-horror film The Last Screening could be considered to be The Cabin in the Woods for slasher films, yet gone horribly wrong. Moving at a glacier-like pace, Achard seems insecure whether this's meant to be a dark comedy, straight-up horror, an exploitation film, or the meta-commentary it seemingly intended to be. Unable to choose, he combines elements from all of the above: The serial-killer is a man obsessed with cinema (meta-commentary), he works in a theater which only shows two films on loop (dark comedy), he stalks his prey before the kill (straight-up horror), and once he commits the murder, steals body parts from his victims (exploitation). All of this is shot like a moody art-film, adding more confusion to the genre mix. I hope that was the last screening I'll ever have to go to for The Last Screening. (If there was one benefit of watching the film, it was that pun)

Grade: D
Level of Terror: None

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.