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Non-Review Review: Tower Heist

Hollywood has always had a strange way of reacting to current trends and realities as they exist outside the multiplex. Films tend to take a while to react to shifting cultural phenomena. That said, changes in response to particular incidents can be relatively swift. Gangster Squad was famously re-shot following the Aurora shootings and released less than a year later. Although still in the early stages of its production, Zero Dark Thirty was heavily re-worked after Osama Bin Ladin had been shot and killed. However, it’s the broader changes that Hollywood takes longer to acknowledge.

The Dark Knight was praised by The Washington Times as “the first great post-Sept. 11 film”, but this was in 2008 – almost seven years after the attacks. The 9/11 zeitgeist still lingers over American film and television. However, it’s telling that – only recently – have we seen reactions to the financial crisis creep into contemporary blockbuster cinema, as the studios try to acknowledge the shifting economic reality.

Tower Heist is very clearly an attempt to capitalise on some of the anger and the hurt generated by the failure of banks and official bodies to protect the average citizen from the financial collapse. It’s confused, muddled and a little disjointed, even if the intentions seem noble. It still feels a little disappointing that it took almost half a decade to produce this rather bland reaction.

A crash course in economics...

A crash course in economics…

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Non-Review Review: Shrek the Third

The biggest problem with Shrek the Third is arguably reflected in its lead character. Despite producing two sequels, making a boatload of money and establishing a massively iconic franchise, it seems like the creators are unwilling to accept their changed reality. Much like the title character refuses to adapt to his new-found circumstances, and the possibility that he will become a father, Shrek the Third refuses to admit that it has essentially become the fairy-tale establishment that it so sorely ridiculed and mocked. The wry and subversive take of fairy tales championed by the original Shrek is no longer on the outside looking in, but on the inside looking out. Shrek the Thirdjust stubbornly refuses to accept that.

Has the franchise lost direction?

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Berry Your Head in Shame: Watching The White Dwarf Stars In Slow Motion…

Speedman is a dying star. A white dwarf headed for a black hole. That’s physics. It’s inevitable.

– Les Grossman, Tropic Thunder

Fame is like anything else. It’s like money or luck. It comes and it goes. Still, as the poster for Halle Berry’s latest film, Dark Tide, arrive, it’s hard not to feel a little bit sorry for those performers who have watched their fame and popularity slip out from underneath them.

Halle Berry won an Oscar for Monster’s Ball. She played one of the few James Bond characters to be considered for a spin-off, appearing in Die Another Day. She got a considerable pay increase for showing her breasts in Swordfish. She headlined one of the very few female-centric superhero films, the dire Catwoman. Not all of those were good films. In fact, being harsh, I’d argue that one of them was a good film, and the rest were significantly flawed, if not outright terrible. Still, it’s quite sad to see the former Oscar-winner relegated to appearing in the latest film from the director of Blue Crush and Into the Blue.

She did make some Berry questionable choices...

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Does Anybody Actually Take the Oscars Seriously These Days?

And people complain that Christmas starts too early! It’s still 2011 and we’re already in the heart of what might be termed “Oscar season”, the spiritual counterpart to the equally expansive “blockbuster season.” Both have very different measures of success. Success in blockbuster season is measured in the words “record-breaking” and “box office” along with various other aggressive adjectives like “smashing”, “breaking”, “crushing” or “dominating.” The winners get their choices of big budgets and high-profile roles and franchises, or the opportunity to risk it all and play again during Oscar season. The rewards at the end of Oscar season are a little gold statue and something like “artistic credibility”, along with the right to stick “Oscar-winner” in front of your name. I’d swear Meryl Streep’s mail is addressed to “Oscar-winner Meryl Streep.”

I might Doubt their credibility...

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You’d Be Muppets To Say No: Let the Muppets Host the Oscars…

UPDATE: Well, time marches on. Sometimes by the hour. It’s Billy Crystal. Not that I expected the gang to get a look-in. Still, I think the points stand.

There are days when it seems like the internet is about to explode. Somebody has a random thought, posts it or shares it, and it just catches on like wildfire. Before you know it, it seems like half the world is saying “that’s actually not a bad idea!” and the other half is saying “that’s a great idea!” The campaign to have the Muppets host the Oscars is one of those things that has just come to life, like a phoenix from the ashes of Brett Ratner’s resignation and Eddie Murphy’s departure. I generally don’t comment on these things, because they speak for themselves, and I don’t like to just run a post saying “everything these guys are saying is true!”, but this is the exception rather than the rule. I want to see the Muppets host the Oscars. I know it isn’t going to happen, but damn if it isn’t the most outrageous, ambitious and insane idea that has been suggested.

And that, my friends, is exactly why it should happen, even if it probably won’t.

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Non-Review: There’s Something About Mary

There’s Something About Mary is easily one of my favourite comedies of all time. I don’t like to think I’m especially crass or low-brow, and I don’t have much love for the work of the Farrelly Brothers outside this film (though Dumb and Dumber was charming while Kingpinwasn’t all bad). However, there’s just something so wonderfully chaotic and random about the wit on display in the film, which manages to encompass old-fashioned physical slapstick, situation comedy, grossout humour, character-based laughs and all manner of subversive charm. All those elements and styles are at play in the film, under the watchful eye of the Farrelly Brothers conducting: they know it would be too easy to hit a bum note, but instead they manage to keep pretty much everything playing in symphony.

Had me hooked from the start...

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Carrey On: Jim Carrey’s Eternal Oscar Pursuit Less Likely Than the Man on the Moon?

It was Jack Nicholson himself who reportedly recognised Jim Carrey as the Jack Nicholson of his generation. That’s high praise indeed, particularly when you consider the size of Nicholson’s ego. It’s true that Carrey is a very talented actor – his slapstick ability is unmatched in the modern day and age, and he seems able to invest a huge amount of humanity in his dramatic characters. Still, despite my faith in his dramatic abilities, I’m not sold on the Jack Nicholson comparison. Partially because Carrey looks far less scary than Nicholson does (Stephen King famously denounced The Shining because he felt that the audience never doubted Nicholson would go axe-crazy), but also because despite Nicholson’s prolific Oscar track record, Carrey has yet to secure even a nomination. Maybe I Love You Phillip Morris will be that film.

Carrey is very good at doing fake smiles...

Carrey is very good at doing fake smiles...

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