Saturday, January 11, 2014

Movies of 2013, Crime, pt2

            I have actually been dragging out posting these reviews, because I got to the "Crime" section and I was going to go see "Wolf of Wall Street" to finish it off, then I missed the show time so I have been taking my time so I can tack it onto the end.  Anyway, on to talking about how Ryan Gosling made a lot of shit movies.
            From what I saw, Ryan Gosling had one of the weakest movie careers all year.  I did not enjoy anything with him in it.  A massive step down from, "Drive", "Ides of March", and "Crazy Stupid Love" which built up a lot of good will.  I guess it wasn't totally squandered, but it is near the E on the gauge.

Gangster Squad, or "Why even try to pretend this is based in reality and instead just go full blown stylized action farce?"
Overall: 4/10
This is all the brown that appears in the movie.  Everything else is mostly blue and white.
            This movie has some visual style, and the occasional cool scene, like one in which Gosling pours acid on a man's crotch, acid that the guy was going to throw in a woman's face.  There is also some interesting action with cool punches, explosions, and chasing.  If this had been full blown cartoony action with Josh Brolin playing Dick Tracy and Ryan Gosling playing the Shadow I probably would have eaten this movie up.  But as is the thing purports to be based on actual events and somehow tied into reality, a ludicrous and stupid bit of pretentiousness that takes a lot of fun out of it.
            Either make "The Untouchables" or make "Dick Tracy", don't unevenly mix them like a McDonald's parfait.  I guess it could have worked if the fictionalizing had yielded interesting character arcs, or if the reality had shown some real depth to mob warfare, but as is neither does much of anything.

Only God Forgives, or "BORING.  But... I guess pretty to look at.  And the music is cool."
Overall: 4/10
Conversely, this movie seems to have fallen into a vat of hot violet gel.
            This movie brings together the director and star of "Drive", my favorite movie of 2011, which was the timeless story of a high functioning psychopath falling into whatever passes for love in his violent robotic brain with his neighbor.
            "Only God Forgives" takes the artistic gloss of "Drive" and only does that.
            The movie is very pretty, with reds and shadows, interesting music, an exotic local.  And a lot of long... Long... Long shots of all of that.
            There is also a lack of likable characters.  Apparently it is okay for Policemen in Bangkok to kill or maim criminals if they see fit, at various point limbs are hacked off or metal pins driven into a person's body in graphic detail... But the "good guy" is the one doing it.  Again, to compare to "Drive" there were numerous characters who had hopes and aspirations beyond being violent criminals and crime was an unfortunate part of their lives, this movie has the violent battering of numerous women, and the rape and murder of a teenage girl as the starting point, and from there it goes down.
            No character with a spoken line is at all likable.  Wall to wall lingering shots of awful people and mild gore.  It also has a scene that is undercut by the fact that Gosling cannot seem to yell at someone convincingly, he sort of sheiks like a sweet 16 princess... definitely takes away from the menacing demeanor.
            There is also a preposterous scene in which a 54 year old man beats Ryan Gosling to unconsciousness (Gosling plays a career criminal who runs a Muay Thai gym and has murdered before with his bare hands).  I don't care if you know martial arts, Gosling had 20 years and 40 pounds of muscle on the guy, he would have won the fight.

The Place Beyond the Pines, or "BORING.  BORING.  BORING."
Overall: 3/10
I am betting this movie was a nightmare to market, because all the press makes this look like a love triangle between the straightlaced Cooper and the bad boy Gosling fighting for the affections of Eva Mendes.
            Jesus Christ this movie pissed me off the first time I watched it.  I actually apologized to my date for having taken her to it, and said that if she was not with me I probably would have left and asked for my money back.
            It is effectively 3 short films that are all connected by some characters and events.  And while each part might work a little on its own, together they are just dull.
            The first third is about Ryan Gosling being a motorcycle stuntman in a traveling circus who finds out he is a father and wants to provide for his bastard.  He does this by robbing banks, and it is cool.  I could have watched a full 90 minute movie about Gosling robbing banks.  And when he is confronted by Bradley "Rocket Raccoon" Cooper at the 45 minute mark I think I said aloud in the theater, "is the movie already over?"
            This is when part two begins, Bradley Cooper becomes a hero cop for catching Gosling and getting shot in the confrontation.  It ruins his cop career, but luckily he has a law degree and leverages his knowledge of police corruption into becoming a public prosecutor.  Again, this is an interesting film, I would have watched it.  It is almost totally divorced from the first part of the movie except for a running subplot about cops taking Goslings ill gotten goods from Gosling's Baby Mama.
            Then 15 years go by.  No shit the movie stutters forward and Cooper is now running for State Attorney, and his son and Gosling's son are friends... troubled kids doing drugs and unaware that their father's lives were linked by one prominent moment.  Again, this is a whole movie done in 40 minutes and is so weirdly connected that it just doesn't work.
            I don't mind that the movie is really contrived and that the role of Protagonist is handed off every so often, but each break in the narrative kills the momentum.  And the last third being anchored by two teenage actors who are just not as good as Gosling or Cooper means that the movie ends on a low note.  Maybe if the 3 stories were told in reverse order, which might be a bit confusing to uninvolved audience members, but would add some intrigue to the affair, and would end on a high note, Gosling being confronted by Cooper.  As is the movie peaks at 40 minutes and just keeps going.  Boring.  Boring.  Very boring.

1 comment:

  1. The unlikeability of the characters in Only God Forgives was a large part of what I appreciated about the movie. While I appreciated the grittiness of the situations presented it was difficult at times to suspend disbelief based on how overblown those situations were.