Monday, July 13, 2009

I See The Whole Picture. No One Else Does But I Do.

By Alec Horowitz

Three stars

It’s only a few minutes in when Boris (Larry David) the main character from Woody Allen’s new picture ‘Whatever Works’ walks up to the camera and starts to talk directly to the audience, telling them that he isn’t the most likable guy and wondering why they would want to listen to his story. His two friends sitting at a table outside a New York City cafĂ© ask him who’s he’s talking to. He says ‘Those people out there.’ referring to the audience before he starts to complain about the people just staring ahead and the guy eating the popcorn. The character is played pitch perfect by Larry David, as he walks through the street ranting about how life is meanness and laying out what is constantly the reoccurring themes in a Woody Allen film.

Boris meets a young girl (Evan Rachel Wood) outside his apartment and takes her in, after she is begging for food. He rolls his eyes as she tells him stories from the south and being a pregnant queen. He ends up marrying her, as he talks to the camera outside a market in New York City on a rainy day, saying, “Can you believe I married her?” The way Boris talks to the camera is actually quite charming in this film, though. He’s sitting on a couch, he makes a hang motion to the camera and goes “We need to talk for a moment” referring to the audience. Ok, so early on his relationship with the young girl he marries is a bit cringe worthy but it’s not overplayed in a sexual way. Their relationship is more out of respect for each other. Boris needs a young person to keep him going. The young girl thinks he is a genius. Boris meets the young girl’s mother and father (Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr.) from the south, two God fearing simpletons.

As always though, another common theme in most Woody Allen films is how New York City changes the simpletons from the south. Patricia Clarkson totally changes and becomes an artist. The father discovers his true self. Don’t get me wrong; this film isn’t deep like other Allen films, which had a deeper underlining. A lot of this is recycled from other Woody Allen films. When I told someone about this film, they asked me “didn’t he already make that film”, to which I would say back whatever works.

Though, there’s always something to be said for even a smaller film in the library of 50 or so films Allen has made. Even a smaller film Allen has made has more insight and interesting qualities than fifty percent of the films currently playing in the theater. And besides, if you don’t like the actual film, at least you got to see some beautiful shots of New York City. No one shots New York City like Allen. The film at the end becomes as much about how New York City changes people as much as it’s about the worldview of Allen. Boris doesn’t quite get why anything should be celebrated. He feels people make life so much worst than it has to be. Obviously, this is how Allen feels about it as well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Giant Robots. Hot Babes. No Script.

By Alec Horowitz

One Star

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is a mind numbing experience that is so chock full of constant chase scenes, explosions and mindless insanity, that it goes from what should be a fun movie to a seizure waiting to happen. Shia LeBeuouf isn’t bad at his role. He’s a normal college freshman, trying to enjoy his first days at college. At this college, every girl looks like a printout from Maxim magazine. Now, one would think this would give the screenwriters some time to set up the characters and their new situations. I don’t want to sound like a snob. I understand this isn’t great screenwriting or anything, but the characters constantly pop like it’s a c grade anime. LaBeouf’s new roommate (Ramon Rodriguez) from the minute he meets him, in what should just be a scene setting up the two characters, righ away becomes a over the top scene with a fast talking character who has quick camera motions and over the top sound effects. And the robots aren't even on screen yet. Uh oh.

We have all the stock characters in place, but who cares. They try to insert some humor with LeBeauouf’s parents, played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White, and it would work if they would just slow down to for a scene or two. Now, as I said, I don’t want to sound like a snob, and it’s getting hard not to. After all, the audience is here to see the Autobots, the Decepticons and the Otherbots, who have meanless dialogue written by a couple screenplay-o-matic bots. Yes, the film delivers on this. Plenty of action scenes and explosions with the Transformers, blowing up all sorts of stuff, and jumping from place to place, with LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Ramon Rodriguez and John Turturro (yes, one of America’s finest actors collecting a paycheck) running from the robots as the machines battle and fall on stuff and stuff gets destroyed, and this all happens up to the point of enough already, with them transforming into cars and various forms of product placements directly in the bot’s being. I mean, is it really necessary to have the Honda logo on a character’s legs?

Michael Bay stumbles through this film, really giving his audience whatever they want. Explosions, no script and constant low grade action over maybe some science fiction. He gives the film explosion after explosion, up to the point that there is no real plot. There's little plot points here and there, and small attempts at being revelant with references to the war on terror, and even mentioning that President Barack Obama has been moved to a safe shelter during the robot invasion, but who cares. Is there even any reason to try to add anything resembling a plot? The movie becomes a bunch of loud sound effects and explosions and the Transformers making robot noises and transforming into stuff and the loud sound effects of my moans as I get a seizure in the movie theater.

I may sound like a snob here, but consider this. You know a movie is bad when it stops being fun watching Megan Fox run in slow motion in short shorts and a tank top. I mean, really, can looking at the body of Megan Fox really be overkill? Is that even possible? Considering the fact that this movie is way too long and that Megan Fox should just have a t-shirt and jeans on already because she's running away from large monsters, and maybe if your running away from earth eating monsters, it's time to consider putting your looks second. I know she's eye candy, but come on. There's a limit. When it gets to the point that looking at Megan Fox isn’t fun anymore, it’s time for your movie ticket to transform into a refund.