Posts Tagged ‘LA’

In a nutshell: The fine art of police brutality

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

Dave Brown has a god complex. The Los Angeles veteran police officer charges his patrol car towards gangs just for the joy of watching them scatter, beats suspects on a whim and walks in and out of his family’s lives.

It is unclear whether Brown (Woody Harrelson) has been corrupted by his badge or has deliberately sought out a career to give himself ultimate control. But in Rampart, an extremely intimate portrait of a man on the edge, you see his fall from grace in the midst of the 1990s crusade to root out corrupt cops in LA.

In a superb performance by Harrelson, Brown is the ‘last of the renegade cops’ who uses his knowledge of police work and the legal system to weave himself out of trouble time and again. When he is caught on camera viciously beating a suspect who crashes into his car – or ‘doing the people’s dirty work’ as he sees it – his carefully constructed world begins to crumble.

Brown soon finds himself in the centre of a huge scandal and in the crosshair of those looking for revenge. And as he goes deeper down the rabbit hole, he discovers that nothing is what it seems.

Israeli director Oren Moverman has put together an incredibly well crafted and realistic film and that is what makes it so painful and heartbreaking. Moverman pulls no punches as you see Brown gradually alienate everyone around him, even his daughters, as the witch hunt intensifies for his badge.

Rampart makes for difficult but ultimately rewarding viewing and is boosted by a top cast which includes Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi.

Reviewer: David Morgan

In a nutshell: What fresh hell is this?

Popcorn rating: -1/5

I like to consider myself an even tempered, liberal type – open to new ideas, not one to judge a book by its cover, slow to anger etc. Burlesque, the 2010 musical drama directed by Steve Antin, however, has disabused me off those silly notions. For I can truly say that if I ever have to sit through this unadulterated, insulting to movie viewers,  ridiculous pap I may very well be driven to violence.

Let there be no qualms or queries. This is a terrible movie, nay, this is a truly, utterly, downright dreadful movie. How this piece of celluloid garbage ever had the audacity to get funded, get made and get a  distribution deal shall evermore remain a mystery to me. And I say that, not as a pompous film critic wittering on about the haunting beauty of say, Terrence Malick. No, my dears, I say that as someone who, every now and then, quite likes a bad movie, even the odd chick flick. Hell, I can admit it, I rather enjoyed Miss Congeniality. But even my low standards have limits.

Over the past couple of years burlesque, as in the art form practiced by the lovely Dita Von Teese, has had a bit of a revival. In fact, corsets and feathers and sparkly nipple tassles, is currently somewhat of a staple of dance classes and hen parties across this fair isle and, presumably, the US too. Unashamedly cashing in on this trend comes Burlesque, the “film”. As wanted by absolutely no one at all. Ever. Probably.

Burlesque tells the well worn story of a small town (and, handily, orphan) gal trying to make her way in the glitz and glammer of the big city. Said orphan is Christina Aguilera in a wig, simpering her way through life as the painfully bland Ali. Fed up in Dullsville, off Ali and her wig trot to LA, where she lands herself a job in a burlesque joint run by the hard hearted (but secretly good hearted) Tess, played by Cher’s death mask.

Naturally, almost everybody loves Ali on sight (“she’s good on the inside too”) and soon she lands her dream job on the stage, where even the big dance pieces fail miserably to ignite, though not for lack of Aguilera’s warbling attempts at song. Anyway, angelic Ali  is soon busy battling the baddest burlesque babe in town (a faintly embarrassed Kristen Bell – who is surely so much better than this) and being swept off her feet by the local bad boy with money. Cher’s death mask lurches around in the background as a pseudo mother figure, the token gay character offers sage and humorous advice and the cute barman secretly lusts after Ali – but are they destined to be together forever? Will the dancing folk fend off the evil businessman and save their club? Well, what do you think?

That’s it. That is really it. If you have 119 mins (almost two full hours) of your life to lose, please feel free to watch. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

In a nutshell: Aliens attack, shit gets blown up, random bunch of US marines save the world. Seen it, done it, played it, bored of it.

Popcorn rating: 1.5/5

If you think the plot of Battle: Los Angeles sounds familiar, that’s because it is. This kind of battle story has been doing the rounds since before I was born. The only difference this time, being that Battle: Los Angeles is utterly and uncompromisingly shit.

It opens within the midst of a battle, attempting to whet taste buds with lovely big explosions and scary “meteors” searing through the sky. And it all looks like sterling stuff, the action nonsense fanboy wet dreams are made of in fact.

But just as quick the action is over and we skip back 24 hours to meet the main protagonists – the same old group of Marine stereotypes you have seen (and probably liked) in numerous other military flicks. You got your ethnic minorities (including the de rigour mouthy Latino), your soon to be married bloke and his best bud, your fresh-outta-college  lieutenant, your virginal newbie and your jaded, battle scarred Staff Sergeant. There’s even a feisty military bird. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Are we seriously supposed to give a flying f*ck about these people? The only reason I didn’t want the aliens to win was because they were actually more pointless and derivative than the humans.

Anyway, after being dropped into Santa Monica for no apparent reason, the Marines are tasked with simply getting to safety. Tactical. On the way they chance upon the last remaining civilians in LA (which got evacuated incredibly quickly but hey, who am I to judge, what with my damn logic and all). This motley crew then proceed to the safety zone by battling rubbish aliens, defeating airborne drones, emoting embarrassingly (“He was a fine Marine and he was my friend.”) and whooping self congratulationarily every time someone successfully ties a f*cking shoe lace. Whoop, yeah, wow, thanks man, you saved my life, whoop, whoop. Puke.

As if the shoddy script wasn’t bad enough, every single piece of this film unfolds via nausea-inducing close-ups and shaky camera work, trying and failing to make the audience feel like they are “really there”.

The only reason I didn’t give Battle: Los Angeles a big fat zero was for the final battle which, while the premise is as laughable as everything else in this piece of puff, did at least have the decency to look like a video game.

If you want to see a good on-the-ground war flick, watch Black Hawk Down or The Hurt Locker, or, if you have a few days to spare, Band of Brothers. And if it’s aliens you like, then District 9, instead of this utter pants.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley