Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives



  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: China Salesman

China Salesman is fascinating disaster.

China Salesman is not a good film by any measure, but it is strangely compelling. There is something intoxicating about the film, in spite of its myriad flaws – the awful script, the atrocious dubbing, the clumsy editing, the terrible performances, the muddled storyline, the abundance of nonsensical technobabble. Part of this is down to the sheer abundance of energy that director Tan Bing brings to proceedings. China Salesman whips and whirls, cranks and zooms, pans and swirls with a kinetic energy that renders these flaws almost bedazzling, offering an effect that in some ways evokes a bad trip.

The gun show.

However, China Salesman is perhaps most interesting as a mirror and a prism. It is, like Wolf Warrior II, very much the Chinese equivalent to those old patriotic eighties American action movies like Delta Force or Iron Eagle, the kind of populist nationalist cinema that is currently channeled through franchises like Transformers. As such, there is something intriguing in seeing the image that China Salesman projects into the world, as an assertion of multinational intent to the rest of the world and as a statement of patriotic self-image to the country itself.

China Salesman is terrible. It is also terribly interesting.

The old man and the Seagal.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Iron Fist – The Blessing of Many Fractures (Review)

As “The Last Defender”, Iron Fist bears the burden of tying most heavily into The Defenders.

This is not a surprise. This has been a large part of the Marvel Studios model, with productions teasing concepts and characters that will not arrive for quite some time. By the time that Thanos moves against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, it will have been more than half a decade since the stinger at the end of The Avengers teased his looming threat. Even since Samuel L. Jackson appeared at the end of Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. dropped by the stinger in The Incredible Hulk, these teases have been a way of doing business.

Glowing yellow peril.

As such, it makes sense that the company would put a lot of groundwork into setting up the summer’s big-ticket crossover between the four different Marvel Netflix shows. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage had largely been their own thing, while Daredevil had devoted a considerable amount of time and effort to introducing concepts and ideas that would pay off down the line. However, as the last of the shows to be released before the big summer event series, Iron Fist carries a heavier burden than any of its predecessors.

Unfortunately, Marvel and Netflix seem to have wholeheartedly committed to the idea of the Hand as the enemy of choice for this eight-part crossover miniseries. And so Iron Fist gets burdened with the Hand.

“Time for snooping.”

Continue reading

The X-Files – Alpha (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

After a couple of misfires in the first few seasons, The X-Files had most steered clear of “classic” monsters. The first season had struggled with werewolves and ghosts and cryptozoology in Shapes and Shadows and The Jersey Devil respectively. 3 had been the show’s first “true” vampire episode, and had ended up as a bit of a mess. Perhaps it indicated that The X-Files was not a show that did “traditional” monsters particularly well; or maybe it was just a sign that the creative team were still figuring out how to make the show.

There was some evidence that the show might have been getting better at this sort of thing. In the fourth season, Elegy had been a (mostly) effective traditional ghost story. In the fifth season, Bad Blood had demonstrated that it was possible to make a good episode of The X-Files about vampires. Perhaps it was time to try another werewolf story. After all, the budget on The X-Files was bigger than it had ever been. There would likely be no better time to tell a classic werewolf story. Sadly, Alpha is anything but a classic werewolf story.

Hungry like the wolf...

Hungry like the wolf…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Hell Money (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Hell Money is an oft-overlooked episode of The X-Files.

The positioning in the third season probably doesn’t help. It comes directly after Teso Dos Bichos, probably the season’s weakest episode. It is also positioned in the gap between Pusher and Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”, two broadly-loved episodes that serve as pitch-perfect examples of The X-Files both on- and off-format. In contrast, Hell Money is something a little stranger. It is not as conventional as Pusher, nor as radical as Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space.”

Seeing is believing...

Seeing is believing…

Instead, Hell Money is an episode of The X-Files that loosely fits the show’s format. Mulder and Scully investigate a bunch of macabre murders where sinister forces are at work. However, in keeping with the broad themes of the third season, the evil in Hell Money takes a particularly banal form. There are no monsters here; at least, not any supernatural monsters. The only ghosts that haunt the narrative are metaphorical. There is a culture alien to our leads, but one a bit more grounded than extraterrestrials.

Hell Money is a clever and thoughtful piece of television that feels subtly and harrowingly subversive.

The writing is on the wall...

The writing is on the wall…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Cherchez Hortense

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Inoffensive. That might be the best way to describe Cherchez Hortense, a French comedy of manners about people trying to figure out how to get what they want from life – and each other. The cast do a great job, especially Jean-Pierre Bacri in the lead role of Damien Hauer, who just about manages to give the film enough weight to stop it floating effortlessly away. There’s nothing wrong with some light character-driven comedy, but Cherchez Hortense suffers from the fact that it seems like even one direct conversation would sort absolutely everything out. Okay, that’s a slight oversimplification (it depends which direct conversation), but it’s not too far from the truth. While the script is sharp and witty enough that the actors never feel like they’re just going in circles, there’s a weird sense of contrivance around Cherchez Hortense which gives means it’s hard to get too invested in anything that’s going on.

cherchezhotense

Continue reading

The Spirit Archives, Vol. 22 (Review/Retrospective)

There’s a sense that Eisner and his staff knew that the end was rapidly approaching. Narratively speaking, there’s a lot of different elements here that suggest – at least unconsciously – an effort to tidy up The Spirit so that it could be neatly folded up and put away. Eisner hadn’t completely abandoned his creation to its fate at this point, but it seemed like he was well aware that the strip might not continue forever. The Spirit Archive, Vol. 22 seems a bit more reflective than the editions that came before, acknowledging that the worm is slowly turning.

Gun to my head, I'd say the strip is in trouble...

Gun to my head, I’d say the strip is in trouble…

Continue reading

A View to a Bond Baddie: Auric Goldfinger

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

Golden words he will pour in your ear
But his lies can’t disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he’s kissed her
It’s the kiss of death… from Mis-ter…
Goldfinger.

Pretty girl, beware of his heart of gold
This heart is cold…

He loves only gold!

The first film in the series, Dr. No, did an exceptional job establishing the template for a Bond villain. Dr. Julius No had an island fortress, a stylish layer, an army of henchmen, a few key soldiers with a gimmick, a sinister plan and a physical deformity, all of which would become fairly key ingredients for an archetypal Bond baddie. That said, Joseph Wiseman only appear on-screen in the role for about twenty minutes, so the audience actually got relatively little time to know him. The follow-up, From Russia With Love, also had a set of memorable bad guys, but the interaction with Bond was limited to the final few minutes of the film. (That isn’t to suggest those few minutes weren’t fantastic.)

On the other hand, we actually spend most of Goldfinger with Auric Goldfinger, and he’s the first villain in the series who has a number of extended interactions with our hero.

His finger in many pies…

Continue reading