Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘Last Vegas’: De Niro and Company Bet on Boomer Demographics

Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Michael Douglas

The four actors assembled for the old boys’ night out that is Last Vegas all have Oscars on their shelves. This movie will not win any of those. Still, it is a measure of their skill that they do not betray a hint of embarrassment or condescension in the course of this lightweight bash. Perhaps they sense the shrewdness behind the project, which combines Hangover-lite hijinks with last-go-round mellowness.

They’re the Flatbush Four, buddies-for-life who gather in Sin City for the marriage of the slickest and most successful of them, Billy (Michael Douglas—who else?). In a spasm of feeling his mortality, Billy has proposed to his 31-year-old girlfriend, and the occasion puts the chums in a variety of moods. Archie (Morgan Freeman) wants to flee the safety of elderly life; Paddy (Robert De Niro) still grieves over his late wife, who chose him over Billy a lifetime ago; Sam (Kevin Kline) has a free weekend pass from his wife to get as crazy as he wants, as long as it snaps him out of his funk. Does Kline seem the odd man out there, somehow an actor of a different generation?

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: by Kathleen Murphy, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘Red Lights’: Stop!

Paranormal investigators Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) spend their time finding the fraudulent in every outbreak of the weird and inexplicable. “We look for red lights,” Weaver’s perpetually pinch-faced prof lectures her class. “Discordant notes … things that shouldn’t be there.” And there you have it, the spot-on definition of Red Lights, a discordant thing that shouldn’t be there, or here, or anywhere.

Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy

Stultifying from start to finish, this mess of a movie is supremely incoherent—plot-, dialogue- and character-wise. Not one moment is visually arresting or suspenseful or even connected to the one that follows. All the players are dour, affectless, implausible. Even the climactic twist fails to shake you out of your stupor; so confused and clumsy is its presentation that one of the characters has to keep explaining … and explaining … what just happened.

Keep in mind, for future reference, that Rodrigo Cortés—writer, director and editor—is entirely responsible for spawning this misshapen thing. Let out to play from the single-location constraints of Buried, Cortés tries for what he must imagine are stylistic pyrotechnics. His camera circles and careens and jump-cuts, not because there are valid reasons for seeing any part of this particular movie world that way, but because that’s what arty filmmakers do, isn’t it?

Continue reading at MSN Movies

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Machete to the Catfish – DVDs of the Week

Machete (Fox)

Born of a tongue-in-cheek trailer for a border revenge movie that never was, Robert Rodriguez’s big-budget drive-in flick is a more convincing slice of B-movie love than his earlier Planet Terror, certainly more coherent.

Rousing the immigrant nation

Danny Trejo (a Rodriguez favorite) is the former Mexican federalé who turns into a one-man strike force after his family is massacred by a drug lord (Steven Seagal—who can’t keep his accent consistent, let alone convincing—as the pudgiest Mexican drug lord yet seen in the movies) and he’s framed for the attempted assassination of a corrupt Senator (Robert De Niro) by his drug-dealing campaign manager (Jeff Fahey). De Niro’s drawling politico plays the anti-immigration card as a racist scare campaign (he secretly funds a vigilante border patrol run by Don Johnson and uses the patrols as a target range with moving targets) as Rodriquez turns Machete into the protector of the downtrodden immigrants of Texas who fill the lowest-rung of the job market. It’s no coincidence that this hatchet-faced hero uses the tools of Mexican laborers to do most of his battling—hedge clippers, weed eaters, cooking utensils and his weapon of choice, the machete. Don’t call it political subtext, though. Rodriguez’s politics are right on the surface and about as complex as the film’s revenge plot, a kind-of populist response to the anti-immigration rhetoric from the more extreme margins of the political echo chamber. Rather, this is Rodriguez’s Latino answer to the blaxpoitation action films of the seventies, complete with Trejo as an accidental sweet sweetback sex machine, irresistible to every woman he meets without making the slightest overture to toward them.

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