Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FEED the anger. FEED the boredom, 'Feed' the movie

Brett Leonard’s film, ‘Feed’ is amalgamations of so many films, we here at ATBTS lost count.  Almost everything is stolen (presumably). Actually, every angle, every edit, and every line of dialogue can be traced to its roots in some other movie. And trust me, even if it can’t, we’ll find a connection.  So, let’s start with the plot …

Jack Thompson plays Richard, an Australian cop just like in ‘The Road Warrior’, who works for Interpol, I guess.  This affords him exciting vacations all over the world where he arrests people in different color-timed scenes just like in ‘Traffic’.  He also leads some sort of cyber-crimes division where he uses computers to catch criminals just like in another Brett Leonard film, ‘Virtuosity’.  So, Officer Richard scans the interwebs looking at porn just like in ‘American Pie’, until one day he decides he should probably catch Michael Carter (Alex O'Loughlin), the man responsible for FeederX.com, a website where grotesquely obese women are force-fed and killed. 

Carter associates these women in really bad fat suits (‘The Klumps’) with his large mother (‘What's Eating Gilbert Grape’) and simply wants to share videos of them with people who then bet on how long they’ll live, potentially affecting the outcome just like in ‘Untraceable’. Wait, that came out after this movie. Damn. Alright, it’s like ‘Caddyshack’. Since there was betting in both, it’s the same.

Wunder Cop Richard jaunts off to the exciting and dangerous underbelly of Toledo, Ohio to confront Carter and arrest him in a slightly yellow-toned sequence.  But, we find out that Officer Richard is only after Michael Carter, the tattooed (‘Cape Fear’) killer (‘Clue’) because he locks up women and then force-feeds them while jerking off (‘The Care Bears Movie’).  It really is your typical model for the inappropriate and illegal use of police powers to coerce, harass, intimidate, arrest, assault and kill members of our community. It makes me sick to think of these cops, going about punishing the guilty at will.

Anyway, while Officer Richard is abusing his power, O'Loughlin’s character dances (‘Dances With Wolves’) between Keanu Reeves’ villain from ‘The Watcher’ and Rick Moranis’ blood-thirsty, kill-crazy, soulless, indestructible death machine from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. But don’t worry, his reasoning for committing these atrocities is wrapped up in the deconstruction and unraveling of social norms, just like the killer in ‘Se7en’ so it’s ok. Oh, and he has mother issues just like Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’.  Also, both cop and criminal have a terrifying secret just like in ‘Insomnia’, and they enter into a game of cat and mouse just like in ‘Mouse Hunt’.

The whole point of this movie is to generate a loose, underlying social statement that there are many different kinds of love and what may seem strange, perverted, illegal, or murderously insane to us, may be perfectly innocent and intimate to others, unless you’re a cop, or a judge, or a lawyer, or human. I suppose we’re meant to step back and see whom the monster in the mirror really is (society for imposing such harsh criteria for “true beauty” on innocent women, or the man forcing a feeding tube down a 600 lb woman’s throat while masturbating in a vat of tomato sauce) but it’s lost on me.  Leonard also tries to link this movie to real facts in some attempt to…show legitimacy of his theme?  I don't know.

Regardless, I suppose the power struggle between the two characters continues up until the dizzying conclusion just like it did in The Shawshank Redemption or ‘Superman’, but I really don’t care.  

Just dig in, chow down, and rent ‘Feed’ so you can see every movie ever made before 2005.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"This Had Better Be Good, Or I'll Feed You to The Midgets."

This was the exact warning I subconsciously issued Armand Assante when I started 'Last Run' the other night. So, when Ralph Brown's character cautions Assante in the same manner 30 minutes into the film, I knew I was in for a long ride. Now, just in case you were too busy watching 'Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring', 'Shrek', 'Training Day', 'Moulin Rouge', 'Blackhawk Down', 'Amelie', or any of the other "good" films of 2001 to see 'Last Run', let me tell you what you missed. 

In 'Last Run', Assante plays Frank Banner, Action agent! You should know that Jason Bourne, Dirty Harry, James Bond, Jack Ryan and Cody Banks were all amateurs compared to this guy. Frank Banner is a super covert action elite operative agent for the ACTION squad of the C.I.Action!  Anyway, Frank "ACTION" Banner was the greatest agent in the world until the stupid lousy Cold War ended, forcing him into sexy action retirement. However, even in retirement, Banner's action fighting skills and quick wit ("I've had smoke blown up my ass, but not quite so...HOT!") land him one final mission to get an important secret government ex-K.G.B. guy from one country to some...other...country...and all before the CIA and the Russian Mafia can call his parents and tell on him. But, in order to do this, Frank recruits all the old players for his elite team of elite spies.

With danger around every corner, Frank uses his super action spy skills (which are highly tuned for action so that nothing gets by him!) to save the day.  Actually, to save a few days. You see, he was trained at the super action spy school for spies to be the elusive game that no snare can catch ...well, unless you're an assassin dressed as a priest hired by the Russians. Or a former partner. Or one of several NAVY frogmen. Or part of the Russian paramilitary. Or the CIA. Or garbage men. Or a woman with a cat. Actually, I think everyone gets the drop on him at some point in this film because he's often surprised that someone else is standing right behind him. But, I digress.

'Last Run' has taught me that all you have to do to run a Pentagon trained extraction team whose specialty is pulling out blown American spies and Soviet defectors is keep repeating the Russian names of various officials in expository speeches and then meet with people who carry briefcases in broad daylight where anyone can shoot you with a high-powered rifle or take your picture.  The rest takes care of itself.

But don't be fooled. This isn't just your run-of-the-mill 'Action/Espionage/Action/Intrigue/Action' movie. There's also a strange social statement beneath all the glitz and glamour of the secret agent elite action double spy world of action. I'm not certain exactly what it is, but they keep talking about the Cold War and how the average person doesn't care about Communism or Capitalism even though the politicians do, and everything else stays the same, or something. When they speak slowly, look longingly off-camera, and the music swells, I try to pay attention. I'm not really sure what it's supposed to mean, but it's pretty deep. (The moral, not the bullshit)

Regardless, we're looking at this all wrong. I mean, Frank Banner delivers the goods! Right off the bat, we're thrust into the gritty world of violent underground spy action when Frank rescues a former spy in the Ukraine and immediately gets into a car chase. Now, I know what you're saying: "Oh, a car chase. That's original."  Well, actually you make a good point. But, that doesn't mean they can't be exciting. 'Last Run's filmmakers looked at the car chases in 'The Bourne Identity', 'Ronin', 'The French Connection', and 'Bullitt' and cut out all the "excitement" and "intensity" that the other films were so concerned with.  I mean, why waste time and resources trying to make your film enjoyable and interesting when you can just dive right in and get to the action?  Frank Banner is definitely someone I'd want on my side. I'd be honored to be on his elite action team.  Although, everyone around him eventually gets shot in the back and he runs like one of my uncle's bowling buddies. You know the guy. The one that played high school football six-hundred years ago and still thinks he can run a 4.8 second 40 yard dash but usually just gets chest pains from reading menus. Yeah, that's the one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Are you there God? It's me Jason Statham

I like to think that just like little Margaret from the Judy Blume novels, Jason Statham also corresponds with the Almighty. The one 
difference between Margaret and Jason is that she is fictional and he is not. Margaret is a young girl who has important life questions that she needs help answering and understanding. Jason is a chiseled bald Adonis showing everyone how crazy his life is through the world of motion pictures.

Through Jason's many documentaries centered around his life, we have learned of his time in Great Britain as a would-be entrepreneur and gangster (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch), his time working on colonizing Mars (Ghosts of Mars), his freelance delivery service which is more of a docu-trilogy (Transporter 1, 2, & 3), his love of L.A.R.Ping aka live action role playing (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale), but most notably his bare bones tell all documentaries known as Crank and Crank: High Voltage.

In Crank we learn of Jason's bad side. I have to say in this over-saturated world of reality TV, it is comforting to know there are still good people out there who want to share their lives with others, be it the good or the bad. Crank touches on Jason's exploits in underworld crime, drug use, & public sex. It is the first in what I hope will become a trilogy, and only offers a glimpse into the life of Jason Statham. But, It is Crank: High Voltage that really shows us who Jason truly is. Jason is a man devoted to his woman, Amy Smart; a man with bad luck; and ultimately a man with a strong heart.

Crank: High Voltage is an almost unbelievable account of a day in the life of Jason Statham. (Kiefer Sutherland wouldn't know what to do with a day like this one.) They must have shot so much footage for Crank that they decided to make two movies out of it because High Voltage starts right where Crank ended. In the first Jason had just fallen out of an airplane and fell to the ground alive. He is then abducted and taken to a massage parlor where his kidnappers remove his heart, and replace it with an artificial one. Understandably, this does not sit well with Statham. He leaps from the makeshift operating table and proceeds to kill all who get in his way.

Out in the world again Statham vows to get his heart back. (Wizard of Oz reference? I think so.) With a quick call to Dwight Yoakam, his family doctor, Statham is brought up to speed on his artificial heart. To live Statham must boost his adrenaline to keep his heart...wait, that was the other movie...uh, documentary...in this one he must get electrically charged to keep the artificial heart going. Once the battery pack to the heart is destroyed, Statham has to find new and creative ways to be charged, be it a taser from the police, static electricity from sex with Amy Smart, or a car battery from a couple of neighborhood vatos. With each and every charge, Statham gets closer and closer to finding his real heart.

Crank: High Voltage is the story of one man beating the odds. A true life affirming story that will keep you near the edge of your seat.