Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Mon. - Violence!

Funny Games (U.S.): American remake of the German film about two well-dressed, unceasingly polite psychotic youth who terrorize a well-off family, forcing them into a series of increasingly dangerous "games." An incredibly faithful remake, which is a bit surprising considering how dark the film's plot is, but the fact that both the original and the remake had the same director explains it. This is not necessarily an easy film to get through; even though pretty much all the violence is done off-screen, the tension of the actions leading up to the violence is enough to keep you squirming and uncomfortable throughout, all of which was the director's intention, as he sets the film up to be a commentary on our desire to observe violence, having one of the antagonists break the 4th wall repeatedly, making the viewer feel more complicit in his torturous acts. Not for everyone, and at least one of the 4th-wall-breaking moments will surely make the majority of movie goers yell "What the [insert expletive of choice] ?!?!?!?!", but for those of a dark and twisty bent*, this one would be well worth the time.

The Signal: Well done horror film about an unexplained signal that takes over all TV, radio, and phone services, driving anyone who listens to it for too long insane. The film is split up into three interconnected vignettes, following an adulterous wife trying to survive a world gone mad in the first; her cuckolded, borderline abusive, and signal-infected husband whose own brand of craziness causes him to keep mistaking other women for her in the second; and her semi-heroic lover who is struggling to overcome the signal infection and save her in the third. My favorite of the vignettes was the second one, which had a much more humorous tone -- dark, twisty, off-kilter gallows humor to be sure, but humor nonetheless. Out of the three films I watched this week, this was by far my favorite.

Wanted: Very loose adaptation of Mark Millar's comic book series of the same name; both the book and the film follow the adventures of Wesley Gibson, a virtual nobody office worker who suddenly gets pulled into the world of the organization filled with superhuman killers known only as The Fraternity after he's informed of the death of the father he never knew. The major difference between the two is that in the comics the Fraternity is a cabal of super-villains who have killed off all the super-heroes years before and now rule the world, while in the movie it is a group of super-assassins who believe they are serving as the hand of fate, killing one person to potentially save the lives of thousands. And as dark and violent as the film may seem, compared to the total amorality of the characters in the book, it's practically sunshine and lollipops. On the whole, I enjoyed the film; sure, the whole "curving bullets" thing violates tons of natural laws, and they don't really give any rational explanation as to how it can work, but instead just sort of hang a lampshade on it, but I just sort of ran with it because, let's be honest, being able to curve bullets is cool**. All in all, an entertaining big screen popcorn film with some cool effects, fun action sequences, and just enough plot to make you feel like you haven't totally wasted your time. Plus, it has a cameo by Chris Pratt as Wesley's so-called "best friend," and I gotta support anything that gives work to my favorite character from Everwood.

*Waves to Li'l Random and Miss ArkanSass
**As we were leaving the theater, PigPen overheard some guys saying "Dude, we have to go out to the shooting range tomorrow!" making us think that the amount of shooting injuries among the mentally feeble is just about to take a huge spike up.