Tag: boring

Only God Forgives (2013)

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While the cinematography and lighting regularly highlights Gosling’s beautiful blue eyes, it isn’t enough to engage you on any truly meaningful level.

This is a film that concentrates far too heavily on insubstantial metaphor rather than characters, narrative and things of true resonance.

In contrast with ‘Drive’, Refn and Gosling’s last collaboration, ‘Only God Forgives’ is very much an art film, a film that’s sheer metaphor. They’re completely different.

The film focuses on Julian (Ryan Gosling), an American drug dealer operating in Thailand who is laconic in the extreme (he speaks just 22 lines according to the IMDb trivia section.) When his sordid brother Billy (Tom Burke) is killed by the father of the girl Billy has murdered, Julian’s mother Crystal (Kristen Scott Thomas) arrives in Bangkok seeking revenge. Her wrath brings her, Julian and their associates into the path of Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), an ex-cop who displays God-like abilities.

The characters are incredibly bland, as are their relationships and indeed the film itself. Its attempts at depth comprise blatant Oedipal elements that are both unoriginal and uninteresting. However seeing Kristin Scott Thomson remark about heartthrob Gosling’s inferior penis size at the dinner table is quite amusing.

The behaviour of the characters made me cringe; watching Julian and particularly Chang robotically saunter along while sporting their best moody poses became plain embarrassing after a while. Whenever a character strung a few sentences together I breathed a sigh of relief; although no line in Refn’s script is of any value, it was a welcomed development every time the suffocatingly absurd lack of dialogue was broken.

What’s even duller are its themes of religion and redemption. The irritating Chang is apparently the omnipotent moral arbiter of Bangkok, apparently he is ‘God’, whatever that means. I just thought he was a portentous prat.

Then there is the problem of the film’s violence. The violence in ‘Drive’ was explosive and shocking, it gave the film energy; it informed you of both the sheer danger of the situation and The Driver’s disconcerting readiness for extreme retaliation. In ‘Only God Forgives’ however, Refn’s violence is protracted, gratuitous and, like other areas of the film, ultimately embarrassing. Refn has admitted that he is a ‘pornographer’, and the film’s main moment of violence, a lengthy and vicious torture scene, is certainly testament to that.

‘Only God Forgives’ tries to be profound, however it doesn’t really mean anything. There is nothing real about it, it simply doesn’t resonate; the only modicum of empathy I began to experience during the film was for Julian and his complicated, broken relationships with women.

Apart from making you feel uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons, the film just does not affect. This is because the film is sheer metaphor. Symbolism and ambiguity can be very interesting and powerful, but this is usually when it is combined with good acting, strong narrative and credible, interesting characters. Unfortunately, ‘Only God Forgives’ lacks all of this.

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Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner

Admittedly this shot makes Blade Runner look quite good, but trust me, there is little beyond the iconic imagery.

Fatally overrated, this film is remarkably dull

Blade Runner is nothing more than a visual spectacle, and its special effects are quickly failing the test of time, which means it’s swiftly losing the only feature that could be considered somewhat redeeming. The film is remarkably flat, in terms of both its characters and narrative; it is completely unengaging in its entirety. Deckard (Harrison Ford) is assigned to find and kill ‘replicants’, which are ‘biorobots’ that have been declared illegal on Earth. The replicants effortlessly blend into society as they look and behave exactly like humans, their cover is blown only through detecting their lack of empathy.

Many people revel in the many different cuts and theories of ‘Blade Runner’, it’s got a prominent cult following. That’s fair enough, but on initial viewing I was left bored stiff – when it comes to sinister cybernetic organisms, it doesn’t get better than ‘The Terminator’ (1984)

This clinical, emotionally detached approach is common in many of Ridley Scott’s earlier work; the whole crew of ‘Alien’ were forgettable, much like the cast of ‘Blade Runner’. I didn’t sympathise with or fear any character, leading to its conventional, tired plot lacking any device to thrill, entertain or ultimately keep me watching. It took an act of will and devotion towards my friend (who is a fan of BR) to endure the whole thing.

I have been aware of the film and its reputation for years, however I had never been that interested in seeing it, but I felt obliged to see it, I’d always get looks and utterances of mock outrage when I said I hadn’t seen it. Well, now I have, and next time I can reply with ‘Yes, I have seen it, and it’s one of the most overrated films I have ever seen.’

50%

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

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No matter how hard I try, I just cannot like this film in its entirety.

‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ is ultimately something of a snorefest; watch this with even a grain of lethargy and you’ll be lost. And that’s a shame, because there is much artistic merit to be found in the film. The killer Wang Chung soundtrack compliments stylish sequences throughout, and is especially effective when capturing the Los Angeles landscape. The opening montage is very striking both visually and aurally; the sequence showing Master’s counterfeiting procedure is also a pleasure to watch. Sadly though, the first twenty minutes and the closing credits of the film are the most interesting and engaging.

Surprisingly even its stylistic flair becomes tired, Wang Chung is overused and placed in sequences that just don’t require it. ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ could’ve been far tauter; it rouses you from your catatonic state only a few times with its surprising violence and of course that famous lengthy car chase.

The premise is simply Richard Chance’s (William L. Peterson) relentless pursuit of a murderous counterfeiter named Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe) who has killed Chance’s partner and ‘best friend for seven years’. Chance, whose safety is hindered in the haze of his own hubris, is prepared to do whatever it takes to put an end to masters, even if it means breaking the law he enforces. Peterson’s anti-hero is certainly clichéd; when presented with his new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow), he delivers the common ‘You know I work alone’ trope.

In its entirety, ‘To Live and Die in L.A.’ is a superficial, viewer-unfriendly production that just doesn’t engage its audience. The characters are unsubstantial, the plot is tediously bloated and hard to follow and its aesthetic redeeming features soon become tired over its 1hr 56 minutes. Not even its director William Friedkin could save it; it wouldn’t be until his collaboration with writer Tracy Letts 20 years later that he would return to the form of ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The French Connection’.

55%

F (2010)

FNotice how the critics’ comments are entertainingly wrong.

This banal, remarkably unfrightening film seems to have been made with a GCSE Media Studies text book.

‘F’ is interesting initially, however it descends into a woefully banal, generic and wholly unfrightening slasher flick. This film takes me back to watching my classmates’ Horror trailers in secondary school; it seems as if the film-makers consulted a GCSE Media Studies text book when attempting to construct tension, it’s tiringly clichéd and ineffective.

The film’s paper-thin, immature and utterly dumb plot makes me think that the crew also opened the text book when it came to narrative, which consists of a secondary school being raided by hooded assailants whom needlessly jump and climb around with such agility that they appear to have either been bitten by a radioactive spider or are just psychotic free runners – it’s all completely stupid.

Horror fans are presented with disappointing scenes that merely examine the resulting cadavers instead of displaying mobile blood and gore. While some of the make-up art is admittedly appropriately grisly, this approach is amateurish and suggests to the viewer that the filmmakers aren’t able to execute violence in motion.

Almost all of the characters are obnoxious and flat: the unreasonable, vindictive daughter; the cold, officious bitch of a boss; the overly sarcastic, rude little urchin of a security guard. They all add up to a slightly increased blood pressure; a testament to their acting credibility, perhaps. As I said, the film began strongly; it appeared to be a straightforward but compelling, resonating story about a middle- aged man struggling with the pressures of work and family after suffering what he considers an injustice, however it devolved into an amateurish rip-off.

25%

Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

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Above: during his arrest, Gerard Butler strips naked for no apparent reason.

This film is silly, and not in a good way. Any film you have criticised in the past for farfetchedness or implausibility will be put into perspective by this truly ludicrous film.

Firstly, all characters are wholly flat and featureless; there is no depth or anything of interest in any of them, the film comprises only stock characters. Gerard Butler co-stars as ‘Clyde Shelton’, a seemingly omnipotent God-like figure who appears to be stronger and more capable than the FBI, the Philadelphia Police Department and various other judicial bodies combined. There’s a line of dialogue that acknowledges this absurdity, but that doesn’t make it okay. Shelton is on a mission to correct the judicial system, which he deems to have failed him after the murder of his wife and child. His extraordinary tactility and expertise are tenuously explained in a scene in which a back story is given to Shelton, a naturally clichéd tale of how he was a human disposal expert, the character predictably saying “He was the best”.

His superhuman capabilities are all very convenient, but I don’t think he’s all that bright, because he clearly makes everything much harder for himself. Once the credits roll, it becomes apparent that the plot has one gaping hole, there was no reason for Clyde Shelton to want to be in prison, it would be completely illogical for him to want to be there; you’ll know what I’m talking about if you decide to see it. Besides this fatal flaw, there are also the ways in which he exacts revenge, which become increasingly nonsensical and boring as the film progresses.

All of this absurdity is fatally compounded by the fact it takes itself seriously. I expected to enjoy this film in a similar way I enjoyed ‘Commando’, a film which is implausible too, but works through caricatures, hilariously bad acting and fantastically corny one-liners. In ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ however, there was barely a grain of humour. Despite this, the film gave me one laugh, a scene in which a particularly irritating character is inexplicably killed by means of a maliciously modified mobile phone.

This juvenile, unbelievably far-fetched narrative means ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ is boring. It makes the mistake of taking seriously a script that appears to have been written by an eleven year-old; but even with humour and interesting performances, I doubt this film could be salvaged. The film is just a brain dead heap of cheap viscera manufactured for the multiplexes; its hugely generous IMDb score speaks volumes for people’s taste.

30%

Blow (2001)

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Don’t waste your life on this horribly trite rip off

‘Blow’ is a horribly dull rehashing of classics such as ‘Scarface’, ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Boogie Nights’. The problems are abundant. Its plot is rambling, bloated and tediously predictable; so many plot points are crammed into it. This poorly constructed narrative results with sorely limited characterisation; some seemingly important characters coming and going within ten minutes, it’s a total mess.

Much of the film is one long dreary drug deal, only the most immature viewer would be engaged or, even worse, allured by it. Most people will watch it thinking about how it lacks the energy, sophistication and talent of all the fantastic crime films it so crudely rips off. Few films are as annoyingly kitsch as this.

Johnny Depp again proves his lack of credibility in the crime genre, his first attempt being in the similarly dull ‘Donnie Brasco’. I’m not sure why some deem his performance ‘excellent’, his feminine features and lack of charisma just don’t work in the genre.

Ray Liotta plays Depp’s father, the noble working class stock character that forms the film’s rather flimsy anti-drug message. This fails because of the aforementioned narrative issues; the film is utterly devoid of any message that properly resonates with the viewer because it is all so hackneyed and clichéd. Most people who like this film appear to foolishly do so because they find it ‘cool’, much like the bonehead rappers who idolise Tony Montana in ‘Scarface’.

To make matters worse, the film also has mawkish lashings of sentimentalism towards the end. The crew had to have known how inferior this film was during production, I can imagine it was exhausting for them to complete the project with any conviction.

35%

Cannibal Ferox (1981)

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Boring, counterfeited rubbish.

‘Cannibal Ferox’ is trash, terribly dull trash. It’s a shameful rehashing of Ruggero Deadato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, which is the Citizen Kane of the cannibal genre compared with this. Naturally, the acting is bad, that is to be expected from an exploitation film, however the sheer lack of talent on display is beyond anything I’ve ever seen – it is diabolical. It was so awful that I laughed and even gasped in shock; I really cannot stress this enough, it’s like you’re watching a parody. There is a particular moment where a woman in peril begins to sing in an attempt to comfort her friend and herself – it is spectacularly embarrassing.

However, don’t think this is an addition to the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, because it’s far from that, it’s just plain rotten. The film has bad pacing issues, it appears to forget that it’s merely sleaze; the majority of its 93 minute running time plots a thoroughly unengaging story concerning emerald thieves. When the film finally reaches the viscera that apparently resulted in it being ‘banned in 31 countries’, the viewer has been anaesthetised by just how boring and amateur it all is.

In what appears to be an attempt to diffuse the viewer’s boredom, there are scenes of animal killing placed at random throughout the dreariness; it’s exploitation at its most unsophisticated. It is this random placement that makes you shake your head with disappointment rather than recoil in horror.

Considering it was released in 1981, the film is remarkably dated; it is a product of a bygone era where films with zero production values somehow managed to secure funding and pollute cinemas the world over. At least the majority of today’s smut has something of a professional sheen.

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