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Non-Review Review: Machete

I really liked Machete. It sounds strange from somebody who was relatively unimpressed with Robert Rodriguez’s contribution to Grindhouse, the lackluster b-movie throwback Planet Terror. I think that Machete works because it’s considerably more obvious in its humour, while still walking through a fairly conventional “exploitation” plot. Although the storyline and characters could easily have come from some dingy shot-on-video-camera b-movie, Rodriguez seems somewhat clearer in his parody here, as if he’s making an intentionally hilarious film, rather than merely trying to create the sense of an unintentionally hilarious film. I think it really works, because it’s everything a film like this should be: it’s gleefully silly, ridiculously violent, hilariously “relevent”, and presented in an insanely over-the-top manner.

Machete don't fold...

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What Does Box Office Failure Even Mean these Days?

It’s already happening. We’re already calling Kick-Ass a failure. Even though it managed to narrowly slide into first place at the US Box Office over the weekend, there are tonnes of pundits ready to dogpile on top of it and describe it as the most epic kind of failure. It seems to be a cyclical experience every time that a big geek film emerges, that has experienced a large amount of pre-release hype on the old interweb: Snakes on a Plane, Watchmen and Grindhouse among others. So how come Hollywood keeps pandering to a niche that never seems to show up?

Did Kick-Ass get its ass kicked? Should we call it Ass-Kick?

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Try Harder, Von Trier

Okay, I get it. We’re sick. We need help. We’re a culture obsessed with violence and pain and suffering. I miss the days when the gory slasher (or torture porn or gorn, depending on your preference) was solely the affairs of one-week-wonders produced on shoestrings and making a bit of money for studios to pump into other projects. However, with the autuer circuit’s growing fascination with paracinema (making the low brow high brow), it seems that these disturbing little films have become an arthouse favourite. Lars Von Trier’s effort at Cannes with Antichrist seems to have shown that critics are growing tired of it, but what on earth convinced artsy directors that this was a good genre to tackle?

This is another sort of gorn. It is also the only worksafe image we have on the topic.

This is another sort of gorn. It is also the only worksafe image we have on the topic.

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Yes We Cannes!

So, Cannes is well and truly underway. And without (for the most part) the bitchiness or grumbling that usually accompanies it. What? Journalists might actually enjoy a film festival? Pish-posh. Still, despite the huge backlash against Lars Von Trier, the festival is going down a treat. When a Disney film can open Cannes to universal acclaim (no easy feat), you know something’s off. With the general lack of pithiness that defines Cannes journalism, I don’t know what to make of coverage of Inglourious Basterds. The reviews are mixed at best. I miss the Tarantino who won the Palme d’Or for Pulp Fiction. What happened?

Quentin Tarantino, master of the pop culture cocktail

Quentin Tarantino, master of the pop culture cocktail

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