Tag Archives: Eva Green

Perfect Sense

Susan is a scientist who knows she shouldn’t smoke but does. Michael is a chef who cleans the fish smell from his hands with lemon and isn’t afraid to bum a smoke once in a while. The two meet, and begin to fall in love as if they’re two characters in a movie compelled to do so (which, come to think of it, they are). The catch: a new epidemic is sweeping through hospitals. After a sudden temper tantrum, often prompted by a wall of grief and loss, the victim loses one of their senses. The first wave loses their sense of smell.

So this is the world in which Susan (Eva Green) and Michael (Ewan McGregor) are struggling to find love. With every new sense lost, countries are increasingly chaotic and governments are just barely holding on. People aren’t really eating in restaurants anymore, so Michael’s work dries up (how do you cook without smell? how do you enjoy eating?) just as Susan’s is put to the test: she’s at the forefront of research into this epidemic, and her voice-overs provide some insight. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need smell to repent. It’s never too late for that.

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You can tell from the turtlenecks this is NOT The Perfect Fashion Sense.

Anyway, an epidemic is not an obvious setting for a love story, and I’ve possibly never been so fully turned off than watching an orgy of gluttony that was remarkably non-discerning. Perfect Sense is no Love in the Time of Cholera. It doesn’t succeed in being any big character study, or any great romance, but it doesn’t quite reach for the bigger picture either, though the pieces are all there. On balance I’d say this is still worth a watch – there are a couple of astonishing scenes, and for me at least it forced a few of those powerful What If questions without which life would be less sweet.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Despite never having read the book(s?) upon which this movie is based, it still felt all too familiar to me while watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Could it be that we’ve finally seen the bottom of Tim Burton’s bag of tricks, and now we’re just watching the shadow of his talent?

Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) keeps the wards in her charge safe by keeping them in a 24 hour time loop, the 24 hours before their beautiful home is to be bombed by the Nazis, circa 1943. Neither she nor her peculiar children age while in the time loop, but to step peregrins-gallery10outside of it would have time catching up to them in a hurry. Inside their cozy little loop, they can be as peculiar as they like without repercussion. Or they could until a peculiar gone rogue (Samuel L. Jackson) invents monsters to hunt them. That’s why Abe (Terence Stamp) chooses to live outside the loop – true he has to leave behind his love, but he keeps her and everyone else safe by hunting the monsters in turn. But in his old age, Abe meets an ugly demise and his eyeless body is discovered by his teenaged grandson, Jake (Asa Butterfield ), the only one suspicious enough (or peculiar enough?) to avenge his grandfather’s death.

Once Jake discovers the time loop and the peculiars, Tim Burton is in his element. He’s excellent at creating worlds, giving them texture and meaning and magic, and populating them with loads and loads of white people. Oh, haven’t you heard? Tim Burton’s a racist now. Well, not so much “now” as always, it’s just that only now are we really paying attention. Tim Burton is visionary; he can conjure ghosts in cheap suits, demon barbers and talking caterpillars – but cast a person of colour as one of his peculiars? That would just be weird. That is too much of a stretch of Burton’s imagination.

If it was just the Peculiar Children who suffer from his pale proclivities, we might forgive him, but a cursory glance over his IMDB list has me horrified. Samuel L. Jackson is the firstperegrins-gallery9 black man he’s cast in a leading role EVER, and you know he’s playing a villain. Jackson aside, Tim Burton’s casting takes on a very pale shade of white. His sets may be designed in technicolour but Tim Burton himself only dreams in caucasian. And it’s not really Tim Burton’s fault. We’re the dummies who have accepted this unthinkingly for years. He’s had huge ensemble casts with not even a tan among them and I for one haven’t even thought to question it.

We’re awake now, though, and the cat’s not getting back into the bag, no matter how many claw marks Tim Burton accrues trying to stuff the fucker back in. His words, you see, have proven even more damning than his pasty casting choices. “Things either call for things, or they don’t” he’s said, meaning, if a script says “African American”, he’ll cast an African American. But if a script says “person”, Burton reads it as “white person.” And that’s exactly the kind of inherent bias we most especially have to watch for. White tends to be the default far too often in Hollywood (and in life). But audiences are not. Audiences are made up of real people, a whole rainbow’s worth. And in 2016, we demand to see that reflected on the screen.

Tim Burton is just another old white dude defending the old guard. He wants things to stay the same. Dude with scissors for hands? Sure. Obsessive candy man? Why not. Orphan in a rubber suit playing god? As long as he’s not black, have at it!

“I remember back when I was a child watching “The Brady Bunch”and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black — I used to get more offended by that than just — I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”

-Tim Burton, ladies and gentelmen

Of course his ignorant comments have done nothing but confirm the need for the very thing he’s eschewing. The truth is, for as long as this white default exists, we need to fight it consciously by countering it at every turn. If a script doesn’t demand it, society should. There is no room for lazy racism like Burton’s in 2016; it’s time to stop casting movies like they’re segregated.

Never mind that Blaxploitation movies were born in response to systemic racism and preached empowerment. Let’s just take his statement for what it is: white privilege, white ignorance, and an embarrassing amount of #alllivesmatter racist thinking. Tim Burton needs to pull his white head out of his white ass, and we all need to hold him accountable. And maybe while he’s at it he might also make a movie not so nakedly derivative of his old work. 😉

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

For a blow-by-blow account, read Jay’s live blogging of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

 

“I’ve gone and done something again. Wish I could remember what”.

Marv (Mickey Rourke) has gone and done it again. It’s bad to forget your medicine when you’ve got a condition. This opening, based on Frank Miller’s short story Just Another Saturday Night, does not bode well for the rest of this sequel that I’d been anxiously awaiting for nearly 10 years. The first scene of Sin City, where Josh Hartnett plays a contract killer who completes a contract that a woman apparently put out on her herself, was not like anything I had ever seen. Sin City 2’s opening felt so much like a movie that I’d already seen before that, when watching it with Luc, it took me five minutes to convince him that we weren’t accidentally rewatching the first one. This had better get better fast.

“Poker. Savage power in gentlemen’s hands”.

If you’ve read my other reviews, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt bias that I might as well come clean about. With that kept in mind, this next segment of the film, an original story by Frank Miller written for the movie, is the strongest by far. JGL plays a gambler who wins more than he should have against the beastly no good Senator Roark. He’s cocky but with more than his share of demons and if there’s one thing JGL knows, it’s cocky with more than his share of demons. Plus, movies like Brick and Looper have prepared him for lines like “Sin City’s where you go in with your eyes open. Or you don’t come out at all”. It isn’t just him that makes this the best of the four stories though. Everyone involved seems to be having more fun, especially Powers Boothe as Roark, who seems to get hard with every ruthless word.

“It’s another hot night, dry and windless. The kind that makes people do sweaty, secret things”.

This is really the main segment of the film, a nearly panel-for-panel adaptation of one of Miller’s more popular graphic novels, A Dame to Kill for. Eva Green plays Ava Lord, a damsel to kill for who seduces men into doing horrible things, including our old pal Dwight (this time played by Josh Brolin). The almost constantly naked Green is even more wicked than in Miller’s 300: Rise of an Empire earlier this year. She seems to relish playing her, even if she never seems sure what to do with her accent. Everyone else is phoning it in though. Brolin growls through all his lines like he’s trying to out-Marv Marv. Rourke, as Marv (over-used in the sequel) sounds like he showed up to the ten-year Sin City reunion only to find that it wasn’t nearly as much fun as he remembered. And Ray Liotta, in a short cameo, uses the campy dialogue as an excuse to go full Liotta. This story might have been a better fit for the first film, when the novelty was still there.

“I don’t use the stripper logic anymore”.

We end with another original story, this time focusing on Jessica Alba’s character. It gets off to a pretty good start. Nancy starts to fall apart after the death of Bruce Willis’ character in the first movie and Alba plays it better than I would have expected. The segment itself starts to fall apart very quickly though with more skull-crushing from Marv and a crossbow-wiedling Nancy. It ends with the death of a character that may kill the possibility of a third Sin City, which I would have been disappointed by 9 years ago. After watching this sequel though, it’s probably for the best.

Live Blogging Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILAGE AHEAD

Oh hello, old friend. Less than two minutes in and we have our first dead body. Love the feel of these movies, it’s instantly cool. Mickey Rourke as “Marv”. Familiar growl. Loving the stark contrast of the snowfall in black and white. This narrative is reminding me very much of the first one. Like, a LOT. Like, am I accidentally watching the first one?

Nope. It’s the second one. Jessica Alba’s still sexy. How many babies does she have now? Damn.

Oh shit. Man on fire. “Burning meat.” This explains the first dead body – a weird sense of vengeance. Good citizenry on Marv’s part. Ooooh, lots of breaking glass as he flies through the windshield. I hope that means this movie was released in 3D. Aaaannnnd there’s our first explosion, 4 minute mark.

Oooh, getting arrowed half to death, the noosed the rest of the way. And first slit throat, 5:10. White blood gushes toward me and splashes me with the fact that Marv has just murdered a “brand name” – and he happens to be wearing his coat. Oh that Marv. Conveniently can never remember a damn thing.

Credits: lots of old crew back. Some new faces. Tragically no Clive Owen. Stupid. Jeremy Piven? Seriously? Oh fuck. What have I gotten myself into?

Oooh, cool effect on the shuffling deck of cards. Like that.

Joseph Gordon Levitt. I like him. No replacement for Clive Owen, mind you. Looking very young in black and white. Not nearly jaded enough for this movie. He does have the smug asshole look down though. Been practicing that one in the mirror, eh, Joey?

I was super relieved not to see Rory Gilmore in these credits. Now we’re in a bar where we see some colour on the purty, near-naked ladies. Painted lips. Redheads.

Room full of card sharps. Look like white collar criminals by day. Still wearing their bankers’ shirts. Some heavy shit gambling going on in here. And Joey’s already raking in the chips while Jessie’s in another room with sexy laces all up her thighs, spying on the poker as it plays. Oh, Joey’s playing “the senator”. For HIGH stakes. Bound to be trouble. Jessie’s got a gun. Joey’s got the goods and leaves with lots of coin. A cop player warns him to run – he can’t protect him.sincity

Jessica Alba’s back to dancing. Using the gun as a weird prop. And here enters King Willis. Jessica Alba is nearly ready to shoot the senator as he leaves but doesn’t. Bruce mentally whispers for her not to avenge him. It’s very dramatic, the mental whispering.

JGL is showing his floosie a good time on the town but then his credit cards go mysteriously bad. They’re beign followed and it  “smells all wrong.” He confronts the thugs, as big as bulls, and takes them both down. Now he looks clean cut but menacing, a few hairs out of place. He gets into a car with the senator to “go downtown.”

“You made a fool of me, boy.” The senator is displeased.  He’s brought pliers, so others will know that they shouldn’t fuck with power. Oh, yup, those fingers are messed the fuck up! And now he’s shooting him, just for good measure. Now everyone else will knowthe senator’s a super sore loser. What the what? Turns out JGL is “one of his” – ie, the senator’s son. One of many bastards apparently. Shit. Son vows vengeance and knowing this movie, there’ll be plenty of it.

Josh Brolin (Dwight) now, creeping on Ray Liotta and some young blonde. He vows this is the last time because his wife is making threats. Doesn’t stop him from taking her dress off. Josh Brolin taking secret pictures. Didn’t need to see Liotta’s ass, and neither do you. After one last (short) fuck, he’s forced to kill the girl to keep the secret so out comes the gun and – more breaking glass! – Clive Owen’s shitty replacement flies through the skylight to smash Liotta’s face in and save the dame, who, it turns out, is not a blonde, but a REDHEAD.

Some coloured neon lights in “old town”. More throaty narration. Dwight brings the photos to Liotta’s wife, having left him beaten and handcuffed to the bed. He’s dramatically remembering some terrible thing that he did (but not sharing it with us) – must be pretty bad because he calls himself a monster and screams into the night while kneeling next to a cliff. SUPER GODDAMNED DRAMATIC.

Back at the office, Dwight gets a call from Ava. Goes to meet her at a saloon. Jessica Alba (Nancy) is dancing in a red wig. Ava appears, blue coat, worth the wait. As tall as he is. Has been thinking of him. He still cares. She gets whisked away for unpleasant business. Dwight tries to talk himself out of it but has to follow her. Spies on her naked. Glorious. Worth the price of admission.  Dwight is so enthralled by her luscious buttocks slicing through the pool water he gets surprised by henchmen and falls off the roof. She allows him to be beaten. Badly.dame

Tossed out of a car, looking pretty rough. His mustang mysteriously returned to him. Ava naked (with a cigarette) in his bed. Shadows in all the right places. Offers herself to him. He threatens to bash her teeth in. This seems to turn her on. He does in fact smack her good before they kiss. Blowie implied, reverse cowgirl, and then more standing around naked, her beautifully on display, him mercifully shadowed. Tells Dwight that her sadistic rich husband allows her to run away only because he knows she’ll always be found, and then disciplined with her transgressions. And then Manute shows up, or has always been there, and though he’s recently enjoyed beating the crap out of Dwight, he does it again, for good measure. More breaking glass as Dwight goes out the window.

Nancy in chaps. Dwight and Marv at the bar. Drinks. Dwight tells Marv about Ava and his eyes “go killer red.” They charge her compound. Two beasts beat the living crap out of each other. More breaking glass. One literally plucks a pulsing eyeball out of the other. Luc can tell by the look on my face that I’m not liking this bit. Meanwhile, Dwight seeks out the evil, rich husband who’s sitting around in his sexy satin robe. Some red blood. Ava is not really covered in a diaphenous robe that’s pleasingly see through and nipplerrific. She accuses Dwight of murdering an innocent man. Apparently this was her plan all along, and he’s made her a rich woman. She shoots him, vowing never to make her living on her back again. Boy he sure fell for her tricks. Aaaaand breaking glass. Jeez. You know you’re having a bad day when you fly through a window for, what? the third time?

Oh hot damn! Bullet in the eye. Didn’t need to see that. Love how he’s still breathily narrating away though. Tough old bugger. Eye for an eye, eh?

Ava is crying to the cops, fingering Dwight for the whole thing, wearing a few more clothes and not as much smutty lipstick. Tells them a whole tall tale. Jeremy Piven is as annoying as I imagined. Maybe more.

Marv is getting Dwight to a guy he knows who’s good with bullets. The girls of Old Town come out with their guns drawn. Rosario Dawson (Gail) in a weird S&M luchador mask.

Ava is naked again, in the bath. Smutty lipstick in place. Detective calls her. He’s also naked. The better to masturbate by? He’s “thinking about her” (this is code for has wood). She “can’t bear to be alone” which is code for : I wish to manipulate you and he and his wood go running.

Gail and her weird mullet just knew he’d be back. And deadly little Miho! Um, dude, she doesn’t recognize you because a) you used to have 2 eyes and b) you used to be handsome Clive Owen. Miho doesn’t kill him because he saved her ass when she was 15. It is unclear why she was threatening to kill him in the first place. He’s hanging around for “more surgery.”

The detective is of course in love with Ava. Is so turned on by her describing a fictitious rape that he has to fuck her on the spot (um, sensitivity training, anyone?) Even Jeremy Piven is disapproving. Detective humps like a dog. Dwight calls and she answers mid-hump. He’ll be coming for her soon. Ava wants the detecting to kill Dwight, but only if a) he’s a man and b) if he wants to ever fuck her again. Jeremy Piven for some reason just doesn’t understand and so he must die: shot through the eye. 3 eyes in under an hour, folks! Show of hands – who’s doinga happy dance that Piven’s already dead?

Oops. Detective puts gun to his own head. Misses his eyes but this one’s gone too.

Ava’s already loving up on warty mcwarterton – Stacy Keach unrecognizable as Wallenquist – who counsels her to procure Dwight’s suicide, and a suicide note confessing to her crimes. Luckily (I assume), Rosario Dawson is undercover (or simply making a quick couple of bucks) as a waitress at this shindig so when a sketchy dude gets off the train and meets Manute, she’s there to meet him in a blonde wig. The wig budget on this movie must be incredible. Rivals the prosthetic eye budget I bet.

And it turns out sketchy train dude is in fact Dwight, post-op. He has floppy hair now. Like Clive Owen? Except you wish! Manute sees right through the ruse. Henchman does not see through Rosario’s southern accent (possibly the leather bustier is helping). Miho, hiding in the trunk, swords him right through the neck. Sounds wet.

Guess who’s naked again! “You can’t make a sale without showing the goods.” Ava comes on to him and he actually has to steel himself not to fall all over her. Huge explosion. Breaking glass. Oh no, pretty naked girl will have scars! Wait, was that an arrow through the eye? Oh! Multiple beheading!

Manute is cocky – takes 6 shots, but not a single head wound. Four more will kill him though (again, I assume). The only 2 left standing, Dwight and Ava celebrate with a kiss. Their tongues are still touching when he pulls the trigger.

Hey. Little JGL is back, knocking on Doc Brown’s door.  Doc Kroenig in this movie, I guess. Same crazy hair though. Jesus. “Sterilizes” the scalpel with a nice dirty rag wipe. Extricates the bullet in young Johnny’s leg. Trades his shoes to have his fingers straightened. It’s pretty awful. Now he’s shoeless and it’s raining and he’s feeling pretty sorry for himself when he remembers – the girl!

He goes to her, but daddy’s already gotten to her.  Severed hand on the table. Wait. Two severed hands. And there’s her head. Severed. Little Johnny dives through an (open) window to escape. And all he can think about is gambling. Yes, gambling will be his salvation.

Oh shit. Lady Gaga and Madonna’s 1984 eyebrows make an unwanted appearance. She should stick to flushing her music “career” down the toilet. She gives him the buck he needs to get back int eh game.

Tracks daddy down. Gets into the game. Is dealt some good cards, real good, but keeps folding. Pourquoi?

He goes all in. Daddy has 4Kings. Baby has 4 Aces. Oh damn. Little Johnny wins and gets a bullet in the head. But it was a moral victory, right?

Meanwhile, Nancy is visiting Bruce Willis’s grave. He whispers more advice to her as his ghostly self. The senator is fixing to do away with her next – blames her for his yellow son’s death (remember the yellow dude from the first movie?). She’s been hitting the bottle, and the target range.

Nancy wants to show ghost Bruce Willis how she can take down a senator by “going crazy” and like all crazy women, she cuts her own hair. The senator pays her a visit and brings a good old fashioned switchblade. Seems to have the same obsession with making ladies scream  as his yellow son. But the apparition was just a dream? I guess that’s why no one lost an eye.

Next stop on the way to crazy town: smashing your face into a mirror. Using broken mirror shard to cut own face. She’s all stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster and recruits Marv for backup. He’s game. An unexplained motorcycle gang is no obstacle at all.

“There’s no reason to leave anybody alive. Nobody’s innocent.”

When did Nancy learn to shoot a crossbow? She must be watching The Walking Dead. Marv just pops someone’s head. Like, crushes it until it bursts open. And chalk another one up for the eye count. Mirrors continue to be Nancy’s nemesis – she gets confused and in her undoing, the senator shoots her, then sexually harrasses her while she’s down.

Bruce Willis’s ghost to the rescue! The senator sees dead people. Nancy regains upperhand and kills him. Dirty rotten town. Roll credits.

What did I think?

This movies does little to improve upon the first.

“Rehash” comes to mind.

Tries to use women as more than props but given the nudity of our femme fatale, I’m not sure they’ve won any points.

Decent, I suppose, but hollow. The first one felt almost ground breaking, and this one just rode on its laurels. If you have 7 years between films, the audience is going to expect something more. Up the ante. This was just cashing a cheque.