Issue 4

Kick Ass  *****  There’s a Batman in all of us…  


I’m not sure of the release date for this one. We only saw it because I know Matty Vaughn from way back, and he was kind or desperate enough to give us a free viewing for good press. Not that this isn’t hitting radars anywhere else, it is, it’s pretty much everywhere. But the thing about this is, it’s not financed by the studios, which means…well, I’m not really sure what it means…but I do know that Matt’s a little nervous about it. Not that he should be.

      Details? First off, it’s based on a comic. Not an oldie, but a youngie, written by a guy under forty, I think. He said in an interview somewhere that he was fed up with other comic books or movies or whatever creating too much of a fantasy world to match their characters’ abilities, so he decided to write something about a kid with no powers, who gets the shit kicked out of him. And when I say kid, I mean, boy under sixteen, which is actually pretty daring when you think about it. And, man, when you see it, you realize it’s not daring, it’s madness. I’m not talking stage blood and fake punches, I’m talking real damage. Broken bones and hospitalization. The violence in this is completely off the wall, it’s…

     …actually it’s so memorable I’m forcing myself into another paragraph to detail it. And, funny thing, the violence is rumoured to be the reason why the studios wouldn’t sign up. They thought no one wanted to see a young boy have his face smashed in, and shame on them. Because violence is young in so many ways, and this is probably what would happen if a kid tried to tackle criminals. To delineate, there’s one scene near the start where he tries to take down two big guys outside a convenience store. Now, they don’t grab him by the scruff of the neck and give any warnings. No, they smack him, and then they sit on him and smack him again and again and…and that’s not even the worst of it. There’s another scene, not really a spoiler, where an eleven year old girl, who is a trained assassin [!], trained by a nutso Nic Cage [!!]…hang on, too many commas there…an eleven year old girl assassin goes into a room of twelve or thirteen guys and tells them that she doesn’t need to keep any of them alive. The guys don’t even laugh, maybe because the threat’s so odd it could be genuine, maybe because they’ve read the comic book, I don’t know, but they pick up whatever’s around so they can smash the girl’s face in. But it doesn’t help. I mean, there have been some out there films in terms of violence, like Inglourious Basterds and Hitler’s face, Wild at Heart and Willem Dafoe’s ejaculating head, but this is a comic book movie, and it’s not a madman doing the slaughter, it’s a madgirl. A really mad girl. At one point she sits on a guy’s face and tries to ram the nuzzle of her gun into his ear before blowing out his brains. Her reason, ‘I wanna feel your brain.’ The gun is her finger, the violence is her personality. Did I mention her Dad is Nic Cage?

      Ok, this is turning into a meditation on violence, or a disbelief at the violence. I guess a meditation would make better points, but still, I’m trying, and what I see is a weird kind of mesh of real and fantasy. I mean, the main kid is fine, and the concept of what would happen if a boy was so wrapped up in his own world that he attempted to force his zero tolerance, Spiderman shit onto the rest of us is fine too. But I don’t see how the girl fits into this. She’s, and I don’t know if I should type this, a femme fatale type. Or maybe that’s the wrong description, but there is something fetishistic about a girl in a school uniform shooting and stabbing people. The problem is, she’s eleven years old. If she were seventeen then you could fantasise about her, but as she’s a minor you’ve got no choice but to see her as a cartoon. But then, what about the realism in the violence? The boy fights for real, the girl plays like she’s in GTA? It doesn’t really make sense…unless she’s a representation of the boy’s fantasy. Would that explain it? Fuck it, I don’t know, but I’m running out of space…not much of a review this one, sorry. Great film though. Unique.


Sherlock Holmes ***   What makes a man a man?

Guy Ritchie directing Victorian England, this was always gonna go one of two ways: Flash and forgettable, or a mess. Somehow, Ritchie’s wriggled between the two and found a third way: bland.

      The directing is fine actually, no zooms or flash camera moves…though the camera isn’t still all that often, but it doesn’t spin around so much it makes a mess of the story. Ritchie knows he has two stars in front of him, Downey Jr and Law, so he simply points and shoots most of the time, letting them spar and piss each other off. And that’s also part of the problem.

      I think Tomomi touched on this last issue in her Hollywood column…Law is not happy playing this role. By that I mean the straight man reacting to the genius. Most of the film relies on this kind of dynamic, with Holmes waltzing around solving things and smelling the pavement, and Law standing behind him looking confused, but at the same time, trying not to look confused. It’s clear he’s not comfortable playing a blank, and it’s also clear that this is not Watson, but Law. And isn’t that the biggest error an actor can make? Letting his vanity creep in?

      There is one scene about halfway through where Law takes his crusade to its nadir. Holmes is kidnapped and it’s up to Law to rescue him. So, in he charges, a man of action, shooting and fencing, which isn’t bad in itself, but as he rampages his body language shifts and he becomes far too heroic…or not heroic, but assured…no, not just assured, but…shit, I don’t know the exact word, but there’s glory in his eyes, and when he finally gets to Downey he looks and feels too big, too dominant, and it shouldn’t be that way. Watson should be the reluctant soldier, the nurse, not John McClane.

      As for the others, Downey Jr must take some of the blame for the imbalance between the two main guys [obviously Law takes most as it’s him who has the small man complex] as he is too showy, too unique, too fucking amazing. I know that’s what Holmes should be, but he does it so well that he almost forgets there’s a Watson next to him. The supporting characters…Rachel McAdams is pointless as the love interest/femme fatale, but in a film of this size it’s the best she’s gonna get, while Mark Strong as the villain Lord Blackwood gets nothing. Actually the two of them get a similar deal, just play along with the plot and don’t try to do anything too memorable. So Blackwood gets the early scene of killing someone to establish himself as evil, and then just plays along that track for the rest of the film. You never get the sense that he’s a Moriarty type, an equal or a flip of Holmes, but more like someone slightly inferior who’s not very nice.

Seraph, stop. I said, ‘stop.’ *****   A new kind of Madness??

No, that’s really the title. And this is really the plot: A young man tries to understand his madness by writing it into a philosophical novel, so he starts attending colloquiums and seminars to try and debate with others, yet usually ends up talking from under the table. Soon he is distracted by a woman he sees on the street and, after following her home, starts to build a tree-base near her bedroom window. She doesn’t even know he exists, but a bureaucrat does, and they embark on a battle of attrition to grant rights to/stop the building of the tree-house. The bureaucrat’s plan: to get him into a courtroom where the man will, so he believes, lose his mind.

I have never seen any of these actors, nor heard of the director [he’s not on IMDB], yet this film is hypnotic. In fact, it feels like it wasn’t even made…more that it just fell from the sky or appeared on a desert hill one day.


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