Sunday, September 14, 2008

Halloween (2007)

The "Halloween" franchise, the "Nightmare On Elm Street" franchise

Does the 1978 Jamie Lee Curtis horror classic of the same name really need a remake? In fact, does the franchise need another addition at all? The question isn't really important, so long as we get to see a trashy Rob Zombie film on the big screen every now and then. Since "The Devil's Rejects" and "House Of 1000 Horrors", the rocker's directorial career seems to be taking off. It sure helps if you can keep casting your Scream Queen wife (Sheri Moon Zombie) in every film though!

Alright then – so here we are with yet another look at Michael Myers, the crazed 10-year-old murderer character that spawned so many sequels, spin-offs and remakes. According to some production notes, John Carpenter (director of the benchmark 1978 version) told Rob Zombie to make this movie his own – but the results are not encouraging. From the story, it seems that the point is to give more motive and background to the troubled child early in the game. This wasn't done too well. Rob Zombie's efforts to add charisma to the Myers kid doesn't pack enough punch. The mask is no longer scary either – we're too used to it now. Explaining the mask is already beyond the point.

However, the performances were tolerable. This Daeg Faerch kid sure has a look about him. He's got that 'evil' mole and a pasty face with uncomfortable eyes – precisely the sort of pale personality that you would think make future axe killers. In fact, the movie does try to colour him a little, displaying the suffocating family and school environment he grows up in. Still, it wasn't really engaging and we get lost in the blood before anyone could explain the need to spill some.

As an old school slasher, this isn't better than something like, say, "The Hills Have Eyes" or "Hostel" but it does beat some of the more mediocre stuff out there. You'd be lucky if you caught this in a territory without censorship because lots of skin and swearing make up the movie.

Right, Mr Zombie. We're bought, so hurry up with "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto"!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Love Guru

Classification: 18PL
Genre: Comedy
General Release Date: 28 Aug 2008
Running Time: 1 Hour 28 Minutes,
Distributor: United International Pictures
Cast: Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Mike Myers, Romany Malco
Director: Marco Schnabel

The self-help business has probably seen better movie spoofs but Mike Myers has made it his own with "The Love Guru" even if it will never spawn sequels.

Unlike the other comics around today like Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Steve Carell, old Mikey has always had that penchant for intelligent lewd humour – although some parts of the Austin Powers movies were more crude than funny.

Speaking about the International Man Of Mystery, that's when Myers the actor was dabbling in spirituality, according to the productions notes at least. See, he lost his dad at the time and went on a personal quest around ashrams (as disenfranchised First World white people often do) and unsurprisingly found comedy in the whole Enlightenment thing. Apparently he thinks that the concept of Enlightenment is basically to simply lighten up!

This movie does that. Myers movies do not have that Judd Apatow humour that demands instant judgment – instead, they are invitingly sweet and character-driven. Featuring real-life guru Deepak Chopra, not to mention some pretty famous ice hockey players that I wouldn't know, "The Love Guru" deserves some respect for going that extra mile to get the extra laugh.

Then come the missteps. We get Jessica Alba playing an overly-vulnerable girl-next-door (default role for every Alba movie), but we'll try to overlook that along with Justin Timberlake's obnoxious frenchie character Le Coq. I'm still not convinced with the acting of either, especially since Alba in her recent "Awake" or "Eye" was still 'skin talent', if anything. Timberlake's "Black Snake Moan" is an example of a movie in which every other cast member acted him out of sight. The worst of the lot here goes to Sir Ben Kingsley, who doesn't seem to mind starring in any silly old role for a laugh. Am I truly missing the comedy?

Thankfully, these complaints stop here – for Mike Myers' Guru Pitka is completely watchable. The jokes in "The Love Guru" are funny, too. However, much like the dharma tuition he gives, they will only draw giggles but not laugh-out-louds. Guru Pitka is smart restrained humour but he will never get that gung-ho, get-up-and-go like Austin Powers can. He's more like Shrek discovering a Sanskrit guidebook.

Oddly, that's probably what Myers wants. "Love Guru" seems a bit more like a personal project from him, a sort of labour of love. It isn't a very well-liked film, and won't be too successful either. It's a kind of self-glowing film that you will enjoy if you're set on it anyway.