Madame DuBarry manages to be a far better film about a load dramatic rubbish going on during the French Revolution than my potentially least favourite film ever, Les Miserables. It manages this despite being over ten years long and completely devoid of that other stalwart of films everywhere, dialogue. You read correctly, last night I sat down and watched a nigh on two hour long silent German film about some woman who did some stuff during the French Revolution times. I paused it half way through, to have a break, because honestly, it was pretty tough going, and did a little search on a well known search engine whose name rhymes with shaboodle as to the real Madame. Turns out she had a pretty interesting life fannying around in French high society before getting her noggin chopped off by a guillotine – the fully most French of all execution devices by virtue of it being the only one which sounds remotely romantic if you say it with an accent. There is also something about a necklace but to be honest I was not interested enough to read all of that. What I did work out though was that the film seemed to be playing pretty fast and loose with its source material. This is probably by virtue of it being made bloody ages ago when the mere mention of sexy times was sort of frowned upon in the movies. So it really appears that rather a lot of men want to, shall we say, spend time with Madame DuBarry, just because she is rather good looking and all that, never mind that in reality she was probably more, let’s say less delicately, a high class hooker. Anyway, everyone in the film is a complete dick, the men are, DuBarry herself is something of a douche, the rich people are assholes and the poor people are too. Though the latter have the excuse of being oppressed and all that, so in the films climactic storming of the Bastille scene you really don’t mind too much that there is a pretty graphic depiction of a hanged aristocrat. Given its length, age, lack of sound and general depiction of assholes its actually pretty watchable though, I’d certainly not recommend it over, say, Rambo III, but if you want to trick yourself into thinking you are getting some culture, when you are in reality watching a jumped up romance paperback, minus all the good stuff, and with a revolution tacked on the end, you can do a lot worse. Still, infinitely, absolutely and without contest a thousand and one times better than Les Miserables too.
Yeah Batman movies. Omnomnom. There is something strange about Batman movies, I can’t seem to review them objectively. Someone could just label up an actual turd with a badass Batman logo and I would probably still think it was pretty cool. I wouldn’t touch it or anything; I would just say ‘hey, did you see that Batman turd? Pretty cool right?’ Anyway, all reviews of Batman on this site should be understood within that slight brain deficiency I have developed, objectivity is no longer on the table when it comes to Batman. So, Batman Year One. A brief synopsis. We follow a young Batman through his first year at school, seeing how he deals with being a social outcast, developing his love of winged creatures, and drinking so much Jack Daniels mixed with gravel that his voice breaks at age four. It is not long before he gets into trouble after a play fight with a young, un-genetically modified Bane and gets expelled. His understanding and very rich parents try to console him with a trip to the theatre, after which they both get shot, right in the bloody face. Batman is right depressed after this and goes relatively emo, not Spiderman emo, but sort of mopes around a lot in his mansion. Luckily he decides to start fighting crime, presumably because his parents got shot in the face, but also maybe because he doesn’t have much else to do, and his lack of education precludes him getting a job like a normal person. He has a moment where he starts talking to his dead father. Obviously he doesn’t reply, he got all shot up in the face and is dead, but just at this moment a bat shows up and goes nuts. Batman takes this as a sign he must dress up like a bat and go on a vigilante rampage. This is much better bat-motivation (Batmotivation) than the silly being a scared idiot like he is in the Nolan movies. All the while Gordon is fannying around being the only not corrupt cop in town. How much of this synopsis you choose to believe is entirely up to you. Needless to say this is really one of the better repetitions of Batman before he starts having to deal with actual super criminals like the joker and two face, here he is just trying to clean up the town in his own, unique, deranged way. Batman rules.
I became entirely sure the vaguely Hitchcockian nuance of The Two Faces of January was intentional about half way through, when the music underscoring a love scene becomes distinctly over zealous and orchestral in tone. It owes other things to the master of suspense as well, there are mcguffins aplenty, a simple story layered with sensational complexity and a look that makes the most of its romantic, fallen grandiose settings. Where it departs from the Hitchcock vein though is in its characterizations, there is real depth here backed up with a sort of realism the Hitch frequently put aside in the name of an exciting story. Indeed, it is personal drama on a grand scale, the small cast of characters lives entwining at the behest of a series of events both within, and beyond their control. Subtlety is king though, and this is what really sets the film apart. What makes it feel so much more like its straight out of the classics file is the way in which a look, a drink choice, a misplaced word can change everything, or nothing. It’s just like a Hitchcock movie, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Four Brothers is the most ridiculous film that is not ostensibly ridiculous I have seen in a long while. What do I mean by ‘ostensibly ridiculous’. Well any film starring aging action heroes, the Staith, Dwayne Escape from Witch Mountain Johnson, and generally taking place in a prison, army base, oil field, all of the above. Four Brothers is set in Detroit, which, whilst you wouldn’t realize by watching the film, is a real place, where real people live. What four Brothers does is replace those real people with insane criminals. Every single character, aside from a cop who hates bent cops, who isn’t even a main character, is criminally insane. Or a murderer. Actually, they are all both. Never before has any film made me not want to go to Detroit quite so much. I just had to keep telling myself that there was absolutely no way this many people can get murdered in one day in the real Detroit. Having checked the crime statistics, there is certainly an issue, but they get through a years’ worth of homicides in a morning in this movie. It’s all some family mystery squad crime solving vigilante thing/death squad. The story is pretty irrelevant, and silly – but then so is everything else in this film. Watch if you want to see guys say things like “jackhammer” before machine gunning a hole in a wall, a man threatening a whole basketball auditorium with a gun and getting away with it, and a car chase in the snow ending in an execution.
When I woke up this morning I thought to myself ‘well, what do I really want from a movie called Ninja Assassin?’ ‘Well’, I said, or at least this is what my inner monologue said ‘I want a Ninja, and what I want him to do is be raised by a mysterious assassin clan. Then assassinate people.’ Then I went about my day just like normal, then it hit me, I stopped dead in my tracks, which was embarrassing because I was in the supermarket. I had got it all wrong… ‘I want the Ninja to assassinate people’ I thought ‘and I want to see their heads fly off and stuff’. That is what I really wanted from a movie called Ninja Assassin. How could I have been so stupid as to not consider heads flying off and stuff in the first place? I mean, seriously, heads flying off is literally the cornerstone of a movie called Ninja assassin surely? Well anyway, I sat down to watch Ninja Assassin and all my dreams were answered. Heads flying off to the right, limbs to the left, blood squirting all over the place. Add in a storyline which is just complicated enough to make it interesting, but by no means taxes the brain enough to take away from all that fun bloodletting, and you have what I consider to be a pretty great movie. There is some fun stuff going on here with ridiculous clan family speeches, some rubbish about hearts, a couple of envelopes with black powder in (not dissimilar in use to the ‘Black Spot’ from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) and a frankly baffling agency based in Berlin called Europol. It’s like Interpol, but everyone is wearing white suits and keeps engaging in soft core pornography scenes. At least this is probably what it is like; Europol is actually just an excuse to get some non Ninja (read, not Asian. Damn you Europol and your lack of diversity in the workplace) folks involved in the whole thing. The fight scenes are ridiculously confusing. I am sure there are some amazing physical feats going on here, but frankly I was too distracted by all the throwing stars and those knives on the end of chain things flying around, they look awesome. That is not the point though, I don’t think this is for martial arts purists, and you can get much better fixes in far older and far sillier movies. If you are looking for a movie that lives up exactly to its title though, you could do a lot worse than Ninja Assassin.